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COVID-19 poses challenges for Bozeman's pay-what-you-can restaurant

The Fork & Spoon is only taking financial donations at this time
Posted at 3:49 PM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 17:49:19-04

People who dine at the Fork & Spoon in Bozeman usually fall into two categories. Those who rely on the pay-what-you-can meals, chipping in whatever they can.

And customers that support the restaurant's mission.

Since the Coronavirus outbreak hit Gallatin County, the support-the-mission group stopped dining out.

“They disappeared immediately. And so the very first thing that happened was almost a complete cutoff of all of our table donations as a source of income,” said Rick Hilles, general manager at the Fork & Spoon.

But the Fork & Spoon did find some immediate relief.

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“On the other hand we were getting help from the restaurant community too which was helping supplement that. So by getting those donations of food products it helped offset a lot of that,” said Hilles.

Now restaurants have either closed their doors or have reduced food shipment orders because business has slowed down.

“Now we’re getting to a point now where the flow of product that’s available for us to use free of charge and offset is now drying up as well.”

Volunteers play a critical role for the Fork & Spoon.

They’ve been asked to stay home for safety reasons, which means paid staff is working more hours.

“We’re running on a skeleton crew and paying more people more hours to do more of the work that was done by volunteers. So all those things add up. It’s just more of a strain on the resources here,” said Hilles.

The Fork & Spoon says they’ve seen some of those strains relieved as a number of local restaurants have donated free meals for them to serve to their regular customers.

These restaurants include Rosa’s Pizza, Urban Kitchen and Sweet Chilli.

The Fork & Spoon says they’re hopeful that this giving spirit continues even after the pandemic is over.