LACEY, NJ — Heidi Daly, an owner of the Forked River German Butcher Shop, experienced the most hectic period of her working life during New Jersey’s coronavirus outbreak. But the situation also gave the shop an opportunity.
The German Butcher recently reopened its interior with a renovated shop. New additions include a hot food bar with hot meals to go. They also added a barista station with bakery items, bringing a mom-and-pop coffee shop vibe to the local favorite.
“We’ve always dreamt about making changes,” Daly told Patch. “But we never really had the opportunity to do it because we were always so busy and had too much going on.”
Then New Jersey’s coronavirus lockdown began.
The German Butcher closed its interior mid-March, updating its business model on the fly to curbside service and online ordering. Each day presented crazier challenges than the last, Daly says.
The pandemic created issues with meat markets and supply chains. They also had a short staff because some didn’t want to come to work and others weren’t in a safe position to work at first.
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“It was just a small crew of people here who made major sacrifices to be super cautious in their own home lives and when coming to work here,” Daly said.
Now as New Jersey gradually loosens its coronavirus restrictions, customers can see all the changes. The township accepted their application for a temporary permit for outdoor seating, and they’re waiting for a tent to arrive to help with that. The interior setup will also help serve customers during the pandemic.
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“(Before renovations) they would come in and mill around a lot in the middle, waiting for their number to be called,” Daly said. “But now we have installed a new exit. They come in one way, and they make their way around in a much more efficient manner.”
When German Butcher introduced the new design June 23, they also showed off some new treats, including salted caramel donuts, brownie whoopie pies and fresh baked cookies. Plus they still have some of the old favorites, such as turnovers and danish rings.
They reduced their indoor seating. With current social distancing rules, they don’t think many people can dine inside one they’re allowed Thursday.
For now, they have a coffee area where they can fit barstools and a few high-top tables in front of the store. Once coronavirus restrictions end, German Butcher hopes to bring more high-top tables to the center area, like you might find at a bar or biergarten, Daly says.
The pandemic brought difficult times to German Butcher and businesses throughout. But the 50-year-old shop used it as a way to further innovate.
“We just put as much effort as we could to get it done now, because this was really the only time we could imagine to be able to do it,” Daly said. “We were trying to make the best of a bad situation.”
Read more: NJ Coronavirus, Reopen Updates: Here’s What You Need To Know
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This article originally appeared on the Lacey Patch