Local groceries and takeout options assure dinner is on the table
On a typical weekday morning, Blondies Bagels and Café is bustling with activity. The dining room is full and chatter among customers fills the air. But the setting in this popular local hot spot and many other restaurants on Daniel Island is different now, as the coronavirus outbreak and new hygiene protocols have changed day to day operations.
“That’s been the biggest challenge,” noted Anne Turner, co-owner of Blondies. “Our dining room is such a buzzing place all the time – people meeting up, conversations, the students congregating to study, prayer groups, so to not see that is so bizarre … Our physical environment has changed so much.”
But even though there is a new order of business due to COVID-19, earlier this week the coffee was still percolating at Blondies and the bagels were still baking – as the restaurant shifted into “to go” mode.
Daniel Island resident Jay Tronco is one of Blondies’ many thankful customers. He was driving down Seven Farms Drive on Monday and decided to pull in to place an order.
“I saw the door open,” said Tronco. “… I figure if they’re open, I’m gonna support them!”
But just a few hours later, Turner announced Blondies would be temporarily closing effective March 26.
“Our commitment remains to our staff and our community and we are 100% confident that both will be safer and healthier at home for the time being,” she posted on social media. “We can’t thank you all enough for your loyalty both before these unforeseen circumstances and during them as well. We will be back in no time...without a doubt!!!”
The café did not have any difficulties getting in supplies while open, added Turner.
Mpishi restaurant in the Publix shopping center remained open as of March 24 — offering delivery, take-out and curbside pickup. According to co-owner Allison Clay, they also have not had any issues stocking up.
“We have not had any problems getting what we need,” she said via email. “The only exception to this was that the restaurant supplier very briefly ran short of to-go boxes, but it was only for a day or two until they were restocked. There are no food shortages that we’ve seen.”
Clay did say they have seen an increase in take-out orders for dinners, but daytime volume has been low – something she hopes will increase once people go through food stockpiled at home. Dockery’s is also doing only pickups and delivery at the restaurant, in addition to offering family-style meals via their food truck. And all to go orders include a handwritten thank you card and a roll of toilet paper (as supplies last), said General Manager Chuck Isenberg.
“It’s uncharted waters for all of us, so we’re just trying to do the best we can,” he added. “I think the most important thing, if we can get through this, is making sure the community knows we’re here for them. That’s what we do in this business – is serve.”
Dockery’s has ramped up deliveries, he added, and parked their food truck down at the waterfront at the end of River Landing Drive during the day to offer lunch fare and even dog treats. So far, supplies have been plentiful.
“We’re keeping a close eye on the ‘to go’ supplies,” said Isenberg. “We haven’t had any issues yet, but because that’s all everybody is doing, I feel at some point that might be an issue, but to this point we’ve been able to secure everything.”
At Publix grocery stores on Daniel Island and Point Hope Parkway, increased demand for certain items (paper products, meats, eggs, etc.) is temporarily reducing supplies. But according to Maria Brous, the chain’s communications director, all locations are diligently focused on restocking shelves, conducting preventative cleaning measures and taking care of associates, customers, communities and each other.
“We continue to make daily deliveries to our stores and work closely with our supplier community to replenish inventory levels,” she said. “Our stores continue to be extremely busy. Our warehousing and distribution centers are working around the clock to receive product from our suppliers and to ship product to our stores. Last week alone, we delivered almost 12,000 truckloads to our stores.”
Brous asked that customers shop as they normally would and not stockpile. They’ve also added special hours for seniors to shop — 7 to 8 a.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
And while no one knows exactly when things might begin to return to normal for businesses and customers, most weathering these less-than-ideal conditions are displaying genuine feelings of gratitude.
“The one thing I would really love to express to you is the people, especially here on the island, have been so incredibly awesome,” said Isenberg. “Just supportive and making to go orders and tipping the team, they’ve just been fantastic. They say, ‘you know I’m here to support – what can I order?’ It’s been a real good feeling.”
“We’ll get back there,” added Turner, reflecting on an anticipated return to normal. “And then we’ll all appreciate it that much more. Nobody is immune. We’re all in this together and I think we just have to keep reminding ourselves of that. All the businesses here on the island – we’re all having the same struggles. We all have the same questions. And we’ll just navigate it together.”
Editor’s note: Information in this story was as of press time for the March 26 issue. For updates on local restaurant offerings or operational status, please visit their websites and social media pages.
Refuel debuts new app, delivery service
The Daniel Island Refuel gas station and convenience store just got a whole lot more convenient. In response to social distancing prompted by the coronavirus outbreak, the store has launched a new app for ordering items, as well as a delivery service.
“The app will allow you to create a shopping list of things in the store that are the fastest moving items,” said Refuel President and CEO Mark Jordan.
The app is debuting first on Daniel Island, added Jordan, who owns a total of 36 Refuel locations, to allow him to collect some feedback from friends and customers.
“It’s such a cool store,” said Jordan, of the island location. “… When we notice what sells and what doesn’t, we’re going to make some adjustments.”
At first, there will be no fee for deliveries ordered through the app as the new service rolls out.
Overall, supplies have been good in the stores, noted Jordan, with a few exceptions. But he believes they will be able to “fully recover” this week. Jordan is also expecting to get a new shipment of 100,000 bottles of hand sanitizer (for the first couple of days of the delivery service, all orders will include a free bottle).
If all goes well with the app, it will be expanded to the other Refuel locations. The company is currently expanding locations into Mississippi and Arkansas.
To download the new app, search “Refuel Market” in your phone’s app store.