Businesses in Itasca County Weather through Pandemic

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn.– The Dutch Room and Mad Dog’s Pizza in Grand Rapids have seen business change over the last couple months.

“It was a huge eye-opener to, ‘Okay, how do we do things? How do we adapt,” said Dutch Room and Mad Dog’s Pizza Owner Gabe Miskovich

Restrictions on bars and restaurants in Minnesota have been in effect for almost two months and restaurants across the state are getting creative to keep business going.

With bars shutting down, the Dutch Room had to lay off all their staff. On the other side, Mad Dog’s Pizza hasn’t missed a beat. They serve pizza, wings, burgers, and more.

Miskovich says Mad Dog’s has increased their staff over the last couple months to keep up with demand.

“When things got shut down it was like ‘Oh boy what do we do? What are we going to do?’ and then ya take a deep breath, ya look in the mirror and dig your feet in and keep doing what you’re good at. And obviously we had to adapt,” said Miskovich.

Part of that adapting has seen Mad Dog’s using curbside and knocking on doors and leaving food on porches for delivery. They also donate pizzas to local clinics and hospitals for frontline workers.

Over at Unwined Up North, owner Tia Starks has been teaming up with other local places in town. They are raffling off gift certificates to their customers.

For every gift certificate bought at Unwined, 10 percent of the proceeds will be donated to local food banks.

Unwined is using meatloaf donated from another restaurant and turning it into sandwiches, which have been so popular that Starks will be adding it permanently to her menu.

Staff have been using this time to work on the wine bar’s patio. They’ve been adding lights and building planter boxes to grow their own tomatoes and basil.

For Starks, the word busy is an understatement.

She’s been running the wine bar for almost a year but her day job is teaching early childhood special education at Grand Rapids Public Schools.

“I won’t call this our new normal because it’s not but it’s been really challenging I think for everybody,” said Starks. It’s been a lot. I have to just keep giving grace. Grace for everyone because it’s super hard.”

Even though the pandemic has shaken things up, the two Grand Rapids businesses are confident they’ll be here on the other side thanks to all the support they’re getting from the community.

“It’s really really been neat to see that type of community support,” said Miskovich. “They’re making sure they’re calling the mom and pop shops and spending their money there.”

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