By Erin McNelis

In early March, lives around the world and here in Bucks County were turned upside down. Many businesses were ordered to close. So what did that mean for businesses that were just getting ready to open?

To father and son owners Terry and Rick Darby of Solstice in Newtown, it meant relying on the community and each other to get through the difficult time. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive,” says son, Rick. “We are so grateful to our community for embracing us when we first opened in March, embracing our delivery options when we had to close, and now embracing us again as we slowly and safely reopen.”

 “The response has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive.” 

Gabrielle Salerno (Rick's wife), Rick Matteoda Darby, Anna Matteoda Darby, Terry Darby

The Newtown restaurant specializes in seasonally inspired Modern American fare. They have offered take-out since the pandemic started, and are now serving dinner in house as well as brunch on Sundays. The restaurant has been taking extra precautions. “We continue to remain positive, get creative, and listen to the guidelines and experts and adjust our approach accordingly,” says father, Terry. We have worked diligently to take every precaution to ensure out guests will have a safe and enjoyable experience. Those precautions include a request for reservations to limit the amount of crowding at the entrance, temperature taking upon arrival, and limiting payment to credit cards  only, through a contactless system at the table. Menus are available to browse on mobile devices, and patrons are asked to practice social distancing rules. On the restaurant side, staff have personal protective equipment, a color-coded glove system to limit cross contamination, and upgraded cleaning schedules and procedures.

“It has definitely been a challenging time for everyone, especially restaurant owners,” says Rick. “This being our first restaurant project, it was scary.” With creative thinking and adjusting, the business has made the most of a difficult situation. Shortly after being forced to close because of COVID-19 restrictions, the family was able to reopen for take-out and delivery. They restaurant also started a GoFundMe to provide meals to frontline and healthcare workers. “That enabled us to continue serving our community while keeping our staff employed,” says Rick.

Solstice offers indoor and outdoor seating.

“It has definitely been a challenging time for everyone, especially restaurant owners,” says Rick. “This being our first restaurant project, it was scary.”

Another business in the same pandemic boat was Mama Hawk’s Kitchen. The cheery place to grab a coffee or a baked good (or both!) had another location at Ferry Market in New Hope, but owner Liz Hawkins had been talking to Peddler’s Village about space there in November and December of last year. “We were getting more serious about it right before the shutdown in March,” explains Hawkins. “Then the world stopped.” As a result, Hawkins decided to close the Ferry Market location and concentrate on the Peddler’s Village store. That was only one of many changes she had to make.

“We put our business up online rather quickly so we could offer curbside pick-up,” she says. “Right before we were set to open, the governor changed indoor capacity from 50 percent to 25 percent, so we had to close a few more tables and store a few more chairs.” The shop focused on outdoor seating instead, on a small patio area.

Liz Hawkins, Owner of Mama Hawk's

“We were getting more serious about it right before the shutdown in March. Then the world stopped.” ~ Liz Hawkins

Mama Hawk's in Peddler's Village

The owner remains sunnily optimistic, which is reflected in the sunny interior of the shop. “We just couldn’t sit by and put our dreams on hold while waiting for life to return to normal,” she says. “Who even knows what normal is anymore? We just jumped in with lots and lots of hope that we’ll do well enough now to survive this, and that somewhere down the road, there will be a better future.”

That seems like a pretty good outlook on all of this for everyone. According to Hawkins, she had her crew are serving up planet of fresh coffee, homemade cinnamon buns, and plenty of smiles behind their masks. “And we are grateful for every single person who walks through our doors.”

“We just jumped in with lots and lots of hope that we’ll do well enough now to survive this, and that somewhere down the road, there will be a better future.”

One of the newest businesses to open during the pandemic is Heirloom, which opened mid July, 3 months after they had planned. It is named for something precious handed down from generation to generation as well as the kind of vegetable varieties that can be handed down year after year by saving their seeds. The restaurant at 54 E. State Street in Doylestown is a brand-new farm-to-table, serving food created from locally sourced, small scale farms. They're offering breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner Friday and Saturday, and brunch on Saturday and Sunday. Takeout is available Tuesday through Friday.

In addition to all of  the unknowns and restrictions because of the pandemic, the team also had to deal with a power outage due to Isaias. “It has been stressful and difficult to say the least, but the community and borough have been to welcoming and supportive. We are so glad and grateful to be open.” They've been sharing sneak peeks of the menu on their social media, including fresh-squeezed orange juice, burrata salad with heirloom tomatoes and house-made croutons, and the B.E.T.C.H – house cured bacon, fried egg, heirloom tomato, sharp cheddar, roasted garlic hollandaise on a sweet potato bun.  According to the Web site the meals are meant to be a “source of nourishment and comfort.” Who couldn’t use a little added comfort in these trying times?

Diners during the first weekend of dinner service at Heirloom.
The Heirloom B.E.T.C.H

We at Happenings Media with the best of luck to these new businesses and ALL of our local businesses during these trying times.

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