To say it has been a strange time for local restaurants over the last few months would be an understatement, but that hasn’t stopped Mike and Stephanie Karas from proudly serving their community.
As owners of Salt & Pepper Savory Grill and Pub in Holland, the husband-and-wife team transformed their full-service restaurant to takeout-only for meals, take-and-bakes and groceries during the governor’s stay-at-home order.
“It was a rapidly changing situation on a day-to-day basis,” Mike Karas said. “We became a takeout restaurant in one day and we were ill-prepared to do so from a technology standpoint. We got very creative very quickly. By the end of the week, we had worked out a lot of issues.”
When staple grocery items were running low across stores in the region, the Karases found a quick solution.
“The supply chain for grocery stores and food service are different in the sense our suppliers had things they couldn’t move, but people couldn’t get them at the grocery stores,” Mike Karas said. “So, our supplier recommended to us that it could be a great service (grocery pickup) for our guests, and it turns out, it was. (We offered) sanitizer wipes, chicken, yeast, ground beef, etc.”
Salt & Pepper’s take-and-bake options were also a big hit among customers.
“Our original chef, Micky Johnson, had come back just a few weeks earlier to help consult us on some procedures and menu ideas,” Mike Karas said. “When we closed, we were sitting on fresh deliveries of food and had no idea how to move $15,000 worth of groceries. He said, ‘let’s make dinners to-go for four people with the food we already have.’ Beef stroganoff made with New York strip steaks, meatloaf made with ground beef we already had — take-and-bakes were born.
“The first week was a hit, so we tried again, then we tackled Easter and did food for 600 people — it was amazing. Mother’s Day was even better.”
Now that restaurants are back to serving sit-down customers, the Karases want to acknowledge the local community for coming together and supporting Salt & Pepper.
“We just want to say thanks to our guests for their support in such a challenging time for everyone, also especially to our staff who have been grinding it out the whole time,” Mike Karas said. “Without them, we would not have made it.”