Last week, as I sat down to write my monthly publisher's letter for the April issue of Feast, St. Louis restaurants and bars were scheduled to close for dine-in business by midnight. In my two decades of covering the culinary scene, I never thought something like that could happen. But it has, and as we navigate the days and weeks ahead, we here at Feast are dedicated to covering the impact the pandemic is having on our vast food-and-drink community.
Across the states of Missouri, Illinois and Kansas, folks in the food industry are adjusting to the new rules of social distancing, with some offering carryout and delivery options and many encouraging people to buy gift certificates as a small way to help buoy the bottom line through this uncertain time. Restaurants and bars are feeling the economic impact of these mandates and, as an extension, artisan food makers and farmers are deeply affected as well. When restaurants aren’t cooking for hungry patrons, they aren’t placing orders for ingredients. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is being felt in every corner of American society, but the impact on the food scene hits home in a personal way. Restaurants and bars are gathering places that bring communities together, and when they are empty, that hollowness rings throughout society.
Next month, we are scheduled to publish our Feast 50 readers’ choice poll results, and after much discussion, we have made the difficult decision to hold off on releasing that content until the current situation has normalized. We felt that, frankly, it would be inappropriate to publish a celebration of our region’s best when just about everybody has had to close their doors or curtail service. While there won’t be a hard copy issue of Feast in May, we are not cutting back on our reporting. We will return with a print edition when shops and restaurants open their doors once again, something I know all of us are anxious to see happen.
For now though, we are shifting our focus to enhancing our digital coverage, keeping you up to date on spots that are offering carryout and delivery with our new digital feature, Today’s Takeout, and highlighting how local chefs are adapting to the crisis, from Rick and Elisa Lewis doubling down on a commitment to their staff at Grace Meat + Three in St. Louis to Howard Hanna transforming The Rieger into the Crossroads Community Kitchen in Kansas City. We're expanding our coverage to look at the steps local restaurateurs can take to protect their businesses, including an in-depth look at SBA loans and the new $2 trillion coronavirus bill.
We'll also be serving up fresh recipes and cookbook suggestions to keep you occupied in the kitchen, including a brand-new column, Pantry Staple Sweets, from contributor and pastry chef Teresa Floyd. We're also excited to launch Extra Helping, a new community-sourced cookbook and donation platform developed with Small Circle Recipes.
Feast is not going anywhere, I can assure you of that. We are all here and focused on giving you, our readers, the best information possible on the food and drink industry and supporting the industry through in-depth coverage.
There’s collective anxiety about how all of this is going to play out from a social and economic perspective. We hope to be a resource for valuable information as things evolve in our region. Please reach out to me (email@example.com) or to our editor-in-chief, Heather Riske (firstname.lastname@example.org), with any suggestions for how we can best serve you as well as our culinary family in the days ahead.