As businesses suffer temporary closures and difficulties due to sheltering in place, two local restaurants showed what makes small communities such a great place to live. After temporarily closing, Sybill’s restaurant donated lettuce to Meramec Vineyards Winery, only to have the winery create two specialty salads and use the proceeds to help pay Sybill’s servers.
Meramec Vineyards Winery owners Joe and Michelle Boulware received a call of Sybill’s owner Sybill Sheffer asking if they would like some lettuce she had left over and would not be able to use since the restaurant was closing.
“It was a large amount of lettuce,” Michelle said. “We asked ourselves, how do we use that much salad. We didn’t feel right using it for profit. We had the ingredients on hand (to make specialty salads).”
The idea was made to create two specialty salads, named “hope” and “courage” and to use the profits from sales to help pay for the wages of Sybill’s servers who were struggling due to the restaurant closure.
Joe Boulware said the idea was an extension from what the business was currently doing to feed students and seniors. “We started the school lunch program for students and seniors during spring break. It was something we came to realize that it was the only meal many of them might get,” he said. Food was provided by the Caring Center and several monetary donations from local businesses, allowing Meramec Vineyards to feed approximately 70 people per day.
When Sybill’s announced it was closing, Joe said, it was an easy decision to use the donated lettuce to provide meals and to give back. “Everybody is struggling. We had just come out of January, which is a slow time of year. We wanted to make sure people in our area are fed and we took a leap of faith,” Joe said.
The specialty salads were sold over a two-day period, with 54 salads being sold and $600 raised for Sybill’s in the process. Joe said he was incredibly proud of his staff who helped and he hopes to do more community support efforts during this time. “Owning a business in this community is the biggest blessing,” he said. “We want people to support each other. It was very rewarding to see these things and now we’re looking at what’s next.”
Both Michelle and Joe voiced their gratefulness for their employees who are helping during this time and were instrumental in helping promote the salad sale and who continue to work during this time when curbside pickup is the new business model.
Meramec Vineyards has remained open to the public with its full menu is available and can be viewed on the Meramec Vineyards Winery Facebook page. Hours of operation will be 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. To place an order, contact 573-265-7847 and drive in front of the building. Food will then be delivered to the vehicle with limited contact.