LANSING, Mich. — Surviving this pandemic has not been easy, especially for local business-owners who have had to shut their doors and recalibrate their processes and business models to fit this new normal. One downtown restaurant owner is choosing to do this as safely and creatively as possible, while staying true to what makes his restaurant a local favorite.
"So...maybe we might be a little bit well-known for our Long Island iced tea," Joe Bell quips, "and we are incorporating growlers of Long Island iced tea (into) our new pandemic menu, and that part of the menu is working very well."
Bell has been the owner of the Peanut Barrel in Downtown East Lansing since July 1, 1980. After adding a kitchen, and coining his infamous Papa Joe Burger, their large patio was installed in 1983 and is now, arguably, the most popular patio downtown.
"Last night we had three tables out there, in thirty-degree weather with our heaters on...and we have blankets available for customers if they want them," Bell adds with a slight smile.
When asked how he has been successfully navigating through this pandemic, Bell answers that his family and his staff are his barometer when determining what is or isn't safe. Incorporated with the MDHSS guidelines, Bell says that he and his team have put together a program they think is safe.
Part of that program is a special "TO-GO" menu that you can only order from if you call the restaurant directly and place an order to-go or for alley-side pickup. They call it: A Nuthead's Pandemic Survival Kit. Below is a list of the special menu items that Bell says are customers' favorites!
5. Grilled Cheese Crunch Kit
This one's for the kids! This grilled cheese comes with fries and a Nestle Crunch Bar!
4. Peanut Barrel Surf and Turf
"Surf and Turf...which is, in a sense, kind of a joke," Bell laughs. "But, not really, because it's a good sandwich." This is the Peanut Barrel's classic tuna melt with bacon. Bell laughs again, "That's our surf and turf." The website reads, "add fries, and we add the Snickers candy bar."
3. Ride Em' Cowboy Round-Up
A longtime customer-favorite, the Rodeo Burger, is a bacon cheeseburger with your choice of cheese and bun. This option also comes with fries. Bell says, "The kicker is...the Rodeo Burger comes with a small package of Jolly Ranchers, because we kind of thought we would throw that in to make it a little bit different."
2. Olive You For Keeping It Local
The Peanut Barrel's classic Olive Burger with your choice of bun (Bell recommends rye) comes with both fries and a small package of "Spartan swag," Bell says. "Maybe a button, maybe a lanyard, maybe a combination of those things, maybe a bottle opener would be in there."
1. Sunshine in a Glass
As previously mentioned, the Peanut Barrel is known for its Long Island iced tea, and this is a take-home version that comes in a growler! This serves seven cocktails, and comes with a couple of signature Peanut Barrel pint glasses!
"We're trying to do our best and our customers are taking very good care of us as well. It's good to see their faces, and sometimes you can't because of the way it is right now with just doing carryout and curbside pickup, but still, we know they're out there and we know they're looking out for us as best they can and we do really appreciate that," Bell asserts.
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