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COVID-19 poses challenges for Bozeman's pay-what-you-can restaurant

The Fork & Spoon is only taking financial donations at this time
Posted at 10:43 AM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 16:17:24-04

BOZEMAN — People who dine at the Fork & Spoon in Bozeman usually fall into two categories. Those who rely on the pay-what-you-can meals, chipping in whatever they can.

And customers that support the restaurant's mission.

Since the Coronavirus outbreak hit Gallatin County, the support-the-mission group stopped dining out.

“They disappeared immediately. And so the very first thing that happened was almost a complete cutoff of all of our table donations as a source of income,” said Rick Hilles, general manager at the Fork & Spoon.

But the Fork & Spoon did find some immediate relief.

“On the other hand we were getting help from the restaurant community too which was helping supplement that. So by getting those donations of food products it helped offset a lot of that,” said Hilles.

Now restaurants have either closed their doors or have reduced food shipment orders because business has slowed down.

“Now we’re getting to a point now where the flow of product that’s available for us to use free of charge and offset is now drying up as well.”

Volunteers play a critical role for the Fork & Spoon.

They’ve been asked to stay home for safety reasons, which means paid staff is working more hours.

“We’re running on a skeleton crew and paying more people more hours to do more of the work that was done by volunteers. So all those things add up. It’s just more of a strain on the resources here,” said Hilles.

The Fork & Spoon says they’ve seen some of those strains relieved as a number of local restaurants have donated free meals for them to serve to their regular customers.

These restaurants include Rosa’s Pizza, Urban Kitchen and Sweet Chilli.

The Fork & Spoon says they’re hopeful that this giving spirit continues even after the pandemic is over.