Jamie Brown is a co-owner (with her husband, Jeff Tonidandel) of Crepe Cellar, Growlers Pourhouse, Haberdish, Reigning Doughnuts and the not-yet-opened Supperland. What are her thoughts during this time of uncertainty surrounding the novel coronavirus COVID-19?

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

We’re still holding steady — this is always our busiest time of year.

I actually feel quite hopeful right now because every day, my life is sprinkled with business excitement around the progress of the Supperland build out. It’s such an incredible project to restore an old church in this fast-growing city. We’re in the midst of designing our own plates — and they’re gorgeous! We’re creating a video series to tell a more in depth story. We’re picking tile, and we received our custom-made purple booths. There’s so much to geek out about.

We’re also having so much fun with the changes at our other spots. Reigning Doughnuts has new spring flavors. Growlers launched a whole new menu. It just feels like we’re in a groove.

I know there are a lot of concerns right now, but there’s a lot to be thankful for, a lot to look forward to.

Reigning Doughnuts’ new spring flavors are available for pick-up.
Reigning Doughnuts’ new spring flavors are available for pick-up.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

This morning was really lovely. I met our menu designer over at Supperland to walk through our interior design plan. It’s time to work on our menus — that place will be so beautiful and unique. I can see it.

But it’s evening now. I’m a little less ecstatic.

March has been an incredible test of my mental health — going through the current pandemic and being in the restaurant business. I find myself overwhelmingly thankful that I was able to get to these consistently-stable days just two months ago with my diet. I figured it out.

Today, though, I’m not feeling strong. I feel caught up, concerned that this sickness is knocking at my door. That in the night, a shrouded demon will come and take all of us, or worse, take everyone but me and I’ll be left here alone. I’m worried I’ll have to sit beside my children’s bed with a mask on, unable to touch their skin and cover them with kisses. God have mercy.

What if my twin sister, who is a Type 1 diabetic, falls ill? She has a compromised immune system. Will I have to bid her goodbye over flipping Facetime? There’s too much to say, too much in a lifetime to express. I can’t do that over the phone. What if we have to close the restaurants and we aren’t ever able to open again? What if all these people who work for us and are counting on us for stable jobs aren’t able to make ends meet? What if they live in the fear and darkness that I’ve struggled with so terribly in the past?

It’s late. I must think more sanely.

As I lay in bed tonight, I know in my world, all really is well. My kids are tucked in. My family is healthy. Everyone laughed today. We ate well, we spent time together. Our businesses are still open. We are all right, right now. We will face whatever comes tomorrow … tomorrow.

I’ll put this computer down and kiss my children one more time before I go to sleep.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

A new online ordering option — a pop-up pick-up window with “contact free” delivery and curbside pick-up — is coming for Haberdish, Crepe Cellar, Growlers Pourhouse and Reigning Doughnuts.
A new online ordering option — a pop-up pick-up window with “contact free” delivery and curbside pick-up — is coming for Haberdish, Crepe Cellar, Growlers Pourhouse and Reigning Doughnuts.

This was a notable day for the whole country, but I feel like this was the first day the COVID-19 pandemic really hit here. Basketball, events, concerts — all canceled.

Despite all the cancellations, I actually feel more at peace today. Maybe because I’m sensing action throughout the country — and that should slow the growth of this virus. I also feel a little better because we had people in the restaurants today. I don’t know what I expected, but I just feel grateful that people showed up.

In the midst of all of this, there are sprouts of hope that this will just be for the short term. Our team at Crepe Cellar moved forward with testing Spring dishes. I found myself relishing in the beauty of the new items because, honestly, it gives me peace that we’re still working on frivolous things. These lovely, somewhat insignificant touches of life are the things that get clouded over in hard times.

All signs of hope — and it makes me wonder what good things will come out of this unique time.

Friday, March 13, 2020

A Haberdish employee sanitizes a chair after a guest’s departure to ensure optimal health and safety.
A Haberdish employee sanitizes a chair after a guest’s departure to ensure optimal health and safety.

What do you know, it’s Friday the 13th. I am spending the day in the front window at Haberdish. I always love this seat.

Our team is doing a tremendous job. They all have new responsibilities, and they have to clean every hour throughout the customer areas. They’re doing a great job. I’m proud of all of them.

I have begun to feel a restoration of hope because we’re being proactive, because we still have a small number of cases in Mecklenburg County, because people showed up again today at our restaurants. But, I’m finishing up my arugula and grilled chicken salad scrolling through instagram, and it is suddenly changing.

Local brewery, Sycamore Brewing, just announced it is closing up.

Don’t spiral down, Jamie. Just don’t spiral down.

There are a lot of things to think through in a time like this. There’s safety, health, staff, jobs, rent, labor costs. I know safety and health come first. Then we also have to think about the 95 people we need to take care of in a variety of other ways.

We know people need to eat. There will be a huge shift in food needs in the home. We can help with this, we just have to find an alternative way — and we’re going to have act fast to keep the ship from sinking.