State allows restaurants to sell retail items

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LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Restaurants are now able to sell meat, produce, toilet paper and other products, just like grocery stores.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is teaming up with the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association to train restaurants on proper labeling, so they can begin selling food and pantry items.

The state says this opportunity can help the supply chain move in more directions but some restaurant owners are saying it doesn’t make sense for them financially.

“It’s very, very strange times,” Zan Lamkin, owner of Friesian Gastro Pub, said. “I think it’s great that they are trying to find solutions for the restaurant industry right now for everyone hurting or shut down like we are.”

Lamkin says the perishable foods they had were given to staff and reopening to sell other goods won’t support staff wages.

“This may make sense for a restaurant in an urban setting with high traffic and individuals not wanting to travel to a grocery store where they can get something locally, but for us I don’t think it makes sense,” Lamkin said.

Salvatore’s on Grand Rapids’ west side is considering adding a side of canned goods to lunches or dinners.

“Beans, things of that sort. I don’t really have a lot of offering on a small scale for whatever you see in the grocery store, but if I have it I’ll sell it,” owner Jim Tinervia said.

Tinervia says he’s willing sell the products if it helps the community but adds that the best way to help restaurants is by buying take out, tipping and getting gift cards.

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“Becoming a grocery store, it sounds nice to a certain degree, it maybe moves product. For the most part, I think it’s best served if we keep up with what we are doing,” Tinervia said.

The decision to participate will be up to each restaurant, so it’s recommended to call ahead of time.

The state says it’s not intended to solve all problems but is another tool to help everyone during this time.

Resources for the hospitality industry and more information can be found on MRLA’s website.

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