PA Restaurants and Food Brands Join Forces to Support Each Other During COVID-19

Collaborations are nothing new to local food businesses. It’s not uncommon to see restaurants co-hosting pop-up dinners, or welcoming in each other’s chefs and bartenders to make guest appearances, or for breweries, cideries, ice cream makers and coffee roasters to make custom products at a restaurant or brand’s request. Though there is sometimes friendly competition between bars and restaurants, the prevailing wisdom is that working together to cross-promote and share audiences helps everyone out.

Now, during the COVID-19 crisis, which has forced many food businesses to temporarily shutter or drastically reduce the scope of their offerings, we’re seeing even more bold and creative cooperation and mutual aid between Pennsylvania restaurants and culinary brands. One really awesome example of this that we’ve seen is in the Lehigh Valley. Jeff Virojanapa, the owner of Notch Modern Kitchen & Bar in Allentown and White Orchids Thai Cuisine in Center Valley, is creating a network for local businesses to support each other’s goods and services. The first step of his plan has been to reach out to local craft breweries (and a brand-new cold brew coffee company), businesses whose taprooms are closed, to be part of a “For Locals By Locals” beverage menu, available for takeout and delivery from both of his restaurants via website ordering.

The first round of businesses he’s teamed up include:

  • Hijinx Brewing from Allentown: 32-ounce crowlers ($12) of Free From G (Blueberry) Gluten-Free beer and Pitch Penny ESB Extra Special Strong Bitter, and 4-packs ($16) of Space Trip New England IPA and JAFIPA American IPA.
  • Yergey Brewing from Emmaus: 64-ounce growlers ($23) of A Beer Has No Name Red IPA, O’Yergey’s Irish Red and 29th Edition Session IPA.
  • Blithe Cold Brew Coffee from Center Valley, which just opened in 2020: 32-ounce Crowley ($10) of organic, sustainably-sourced cold brew coffee.

Another example of collective support between food folks can be seen in Philadelphia via Joy Box, a project organized by Triple Bottom Brewing Co. Joy Box is a customizable care package, full of “non-essential essentials” — basically locally made treats meant to provide a bit of comfort and pleasure in the midst of an uncertain time. This alliance of Philly-based artisans means that you can get beer from Triple Bottom, ice cream from Weckerly’s, popsicles from Lil’ Pop Shop, coffee from Câphé Roasters, cheese from Third Wheel Cheese and gourmet mushrooms from Mycopolitan Mushroom Company. Updated weekly, shoppers can choose to add only the products they’d like to get to their Joy Boxes, which are then available for delivery or curbside pick up. See here for more info.

Do you know of other collaborations and restaurants teaming up in your community? Please let us know all about it, either in the comments here, or on the PA Eats Facebook page!

  • Feature photo: White Orchids Thai Cuisine