Local restaurants step up to offer help in tough time
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — One of Sharon Stone’s regular customers pulled her aside after ordering breakfast earlier this week and presented an idea that put a light in her eyes.
“He ordered his breakfast and then said, ‘There’s something I want to talk to you about,’” Stone said. “’If I leave you this check, could you do some free breakfasts?’”
She agreed, but with one stipulation.
“I want to do coffee with it,” Stone told the customer. “There’s a lot of people that if they could just go sit and relax and have a good cup of coffee and a nice warm breakfast, things would feel a little bit more normal.”
The donor, who preferred to remain anonymous, provided a check for $1,200 to get the program started and said he will match the first $1,500 in donations. Sharon’s, located in Riverside Plaza west of Steamboat Springs, served 28 free meals Tuesday.
Stone has been serving up breakfast for 32 years in Steamboat. She said in all that time she has never seen anything like the pandemic or the impact it has had on the town.
She will continue to offer her regular menu to paying customers, as well as family meals including lasagna, stuffed bell peppers and soon chicken Alfredo that are packaged and ready to go out the door. She will also stay open until 5:30 p.m. Fridays, so that customers can stop by and pick up Sharon’s fish and chip meals.
“I do the best fish fry in Steamboat,” Stone said. “I do a haddock or a walleye, and it’s the best fish and chips in Steamboat.”
On Tuesday, however, she entered a new market in offering free breakfast plates — including a choice of biscuits and gravy with eggs, baby pancakes with eggs or a breakfast burrito with green chili or salsa. She will offer the free menu from 7 a.m. to noon Monday to Saturday for as long as meals are needed.
“Can you tell me when this thing is going to be over? Can you tell me when people are going to stop struggling, because that’s when we are going to quit doing this,” Stone said. “I’m dealing with a lot of people that are angry, and people that just want to come to town, just want to eat out. This has been an incredibly challenging time, and we just want to do our part to help people out.”
Stone wants to reach everybody in need by offering free breakfasts and is hoping that it will become a “Pay it Forward” model where people who want to help out can drop $5 or $10 in a jar to keep her efforts going. She is also open to taking donations to keep the breakfast going.
“This is for anybody that is struggling,” Stone said. “If you’re just cold and depressed, sometimes, a hot cup of coffee will change your world.”
Kathy Deimer, who owns and operates Johnny B. Good’s Diner with her husband Mike, are also trying to make an impact. They started offering soup and bread every day, from noon to 7 p.m., the day after restaurants were closed to in-person dining Nov. 20.
“It has worked out well,” Diemer said. “We have been able to help out a lot of people who are coming in and getting a meal while they are waiting on their jobs to come back. We have even been able to help people with some other stuff as well — so it’s been a good thing.”
Johnny B. Good’s has received many donations including some from local ranchers who have offered beef and pork that can be used to make the soup and chili they are serving. Diemer said the downtown restaurant has also received donations from some of its vendors and local businesses that want to help.
“We just knew there was going to be some people falling short, and we were already doing it for our staff. I just said to Mike, ’We should be doing this across the board because there are people that need to eat, and let’s not have people walking around hungry.’”
The Diemers also have used their restaurant to direct people in the community to places that can offer help, and both the Diemers and Stone said that the need for help has never been greater.
“This has been a horrible time,” Stone said of the pandemic and the shutdowns that have followed. “This is a saving grace for me and a lot of people. It’s hope, and it brings such hope to people.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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Sales tax collections in the city of Steamboat Springs during the first five months of 2021 were nearly 20% more than the same period last year, according to a report recently released by the city.