Charlene Gulliford at the Gandy Dancer never figured there would come a day when the Michigan restaurant known for its steaks and seafood would sell toilet paper and cartons of eggs, but the coronavirus has restaurants in survival mode, the AP reports. The Ann Arbor restaurant now doubles as a grocery store, offering staples such milk and bread in addition to meats and fish from its own pantry—and yes, even paper towels and the ever-elusive toilet paper. Sales began two weeks ago and the Gandy Dancer has begun making up for lost income, while also filling a need since traditional grocers are struggling to keep up with demand. "A lot of people are saying they’re happy to support us, but a lot of people are saying, 'Thank you for helping us,'" said Gulliford, the restaurant's general manager.
The idea is catching on nationwide. Stay-at-home and social distancing orders meant to slow the spread of COVID-19 have put restaurant dining on hold, forcing many to close and leaving others barely surviving. From large chains to mom-and-pop eateries, restaurants are increasingly turning to grocery sales. Panera this week launched Panera Grocery, and Subway is selling groceries at 250 of its stores in five states—California, Connecticut, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington. Potbelly Sandwich Shop franchises launched Potbelly Pantry, offering mostly foods that the chain uses to make its sandwiches. But restaurant operators aren’t sure if grocery sales will continue once the pandemic passes. "It just really depends on what the new normal is," said Gulliford.
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