The impact of the coronavirus on restaurants nationwide has left many businesses with difficult decisions to make. In St. Louis, many have closed temporarily, while others have chosen to offer limited-contact pickup and delivery options. Gooseberries, a beloved South City “eats and treats emporium,” ceased its regular operations, shifting gears to focus on providing groceries and necessities to those in need.
A message posted on the wholesome homestyle eatery’s Facebook page last week read: “We know times are tough. If you or someone you know needs some groceries, stop by on Saturday and Sunday. We will hand you a bag of grocery staples, no questions asked. It is time to help. Pass on some love, folks.”
“We are not rich folks but we will share food with y’all until we can’t,” another status read. “We are so grateful for the love y’all have given us over the years.”
Over the weekend, co-owners Kim Bond and Ross Lessor handed out more than 50 grocery bags through the entrance’s wrought-iron gates until running out of supplies on the second day. The bags were filled with items such as vegetables, rice and beans with spice packets, toilet paper, bread, popcorn and a homemade sweet treat.
“We’ve been in the industry for a long time and know how tight things can be,” Bond says. “People can just not have anything for a couple days and live off of their jobs. If we have extra, we want to share what we have and make sure everybody can be fed. This is for anybody, honestly -- even if it’s just because you don’t want to go in the store.”
For the husband-and-wife duo, putting their five-year-old passion project on pause seemed like the best move to help out their community and loyal customer base. They recently announced that a second location, Gooseberries On The Fly, would open soon at The Fortune Teller Bar and intend on developing the expansion in the interim.
“We wanted to lower risk factors by closing, but most of our customers are industry folks or just people from the neighborhood. There are a lot of hungry people out here,” Bond says. “We thought our best bet would be to hand out some food. While this is going on, that can be our job.”
Gooseberries will continue passing out groceries during the public health crisis as long as restaurants are able to operate in the area. Bag pick-ups are available between Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 3pm. Those looking to contribute funds to fuel the grocery share can donate via Cash App. To support Gooseberries directly, online gift certificates are available.
“Part of our job is feeding people, but the other part of it is making somebody’s day brighter. Even if we’re only making the day brighter for a couple people by doing this, that makes us feel better,” Bond says. “We plan on handing out as much as we can for as long as we can.”
Gooseberries, 2754 Chippewa St., Cherokee Business District, St. Louis, Missouri, 314.577.6363, facebook.com/gooseberrieseatsandtreats