Nirvana Grille Goes Above and Beyond to Nourish Its Community When It Needs It the Most
It didn’t take long for Chef/Owner Lindsay Smith-Rosales of Nirvana Grille to pivot from a beloved, staple restaurant in Laguna Beach to a beloved restaurant providing staples. For hundreds upon thousands of restaurants across the nation, shelter-in-place orders due to COVID-19 has been a massive blow to the industry’s gut, leaving restaurants reeling to find ways to keep staff employed and rent paid. On March 12, Nirvana Grille was a restaurant, a couple of days later it was a Co-Op providing patrons needed staples like beans, bread and even toilet paper.
In a March 13 message to her customers via social media, Smith-Rosales wrote;
“To our Laguna Community, Patrons, Friends and Extended Nirvana Family,
As we see more and more empty shelves and scarcity, we as a restaurant have access to more than the normal family. We are here to help be a resource to all and make certain we work together in staying supported as a community and nation instead of in fear or panic. If you are not wanting to go into stores, fight crowds, or are having a challenge in finding food items, cleaning supplies, household necessities, etc., we are here to offer support. We will be ordering from our vendors and putting together a Co-Op here at Nirvana Grille, and bringing back what is so important during times like these: open arms and open doors! … We must pull together, and we are here to help make sure mouths are fed, bottoms are clean, and panic is minimized.”
In no time at all, Smith-Rosales created a Shopify website for Nirvana Grille Co-Op featuring an impressive 100 plus item selection of produce, hot meals and wine. There’s a bounty of bread (an unusually hard to find staple these days), fresh veggies and fruit, high-quality cheese, organic meat (even paleo chicken sausage), canned and dried goods, and even gourmet house-made items like rosemary roasted beef Demi-glace and seasoning salt. The hot meal selection is five-star too; think salmon chowder, pistachio dijon rack of lamb, grilled caesar salad, and streusel apple pie— the drool-worthy menu goes on and on.
It’s a menu Smith-Rosales’ created with her dedicated staff. In a dismal time when restaurants are forced to make hard decisions to lay off upwards of 90 percent of staff, Smith-Rosales has been able to retain 90 percent of her staff members. Her team is like family, and family takes care of family.
Smith-Rosales’ quick thinking was embraced immediately by the community of Laguna Beach, who were hungry for hard to find grocery items and comfort food and a bit of humanity really to lighten somber headlines.
“The response has been overwhelmingly inspiring,” said Smith-Rosales. “People are so gracious and grateful that we’re doing this— we’re supplying something that people are so anxious to get that now they’re feeling at ease and peace. And that was kind of the goal. I don’t want people to feel so overwhelmed when we have the accessibility [to groceries] that we have.”
Smith-Rosales effectively closed the loop on a wavering restaurant food supply chain. With restaurants closing at an unprecedented clip, food vendors are left with warehouses full of perishable items. Her co-op ensures no food goes wasted while supplying a demand to feed her community— it may no longer be in the form of plated dinners, but it’s still food that nourishes, maybe even more so than ever before.
There isn’t a better time to support Ocean Friendly Restaurants. Restaurant owners like Smith-Rosales are committed to a series of plastic-free practices, such as using reusable utensils onsite and not using plastic straws or bags. If you are looking for a takeout or delivered meal, check out this map of Ocean Friendly Restaurants near you!
Nirvana Grille |303 Broadway St #101, Laguna Beach, CA 92651 | 949.497.0027