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Sit down meal

Entities take a bite out of social isolation

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry From left, Scott Petitt and Clifford VanTassel get ready to dig in to their meals Wednesday at Jack’s Tap House.

Jack’s Tap House and Lakeshore Community Services are working together to combat social isolation.

Due to COVID-19, the consumers at Lakeshore’s assisted living facilities haven’t been about to move freely about their communities.

Also due to the pandemic, Jack’s has reduced its days and hours of operation.

The two entities decided to work together.

“The clients haven’t been able to go out and do anything,” Jack’s Tap House Head Chef Donny Backstrom said.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Tina Hoffner admires her steak at Jack’s Tap House as Mike Stine at left and Joe Rounds wait for their meals.

He had a source inside Lakeshore. His wife, Monica, is a Direct Support Professional there.

“These guys haven’t been able to do anything,” Monica Backstrom said. “They used to be able to get out all the time. We’re trying to have less people around.”

Even visits from family members have been cut.

The consumers options for meals outside of Lakeshore are limited. They can only get drive-through meals or have picnics in parks where there are fewer than 10 people. “We can’t go in any stores,” Direct Support Professional TeJay Shick said. “Mostly to parks for picnics.”

The Backstroms talked about the social isolation situation and decided to act.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Kevin Lewandowski waits for his meal Wednesday as consumers from Lakeshore Community Services when out to dinner at Jack’s Tap House.

“We got together with the Lakeshore director for Warren, Carl Seeker, and proposed that since our restaurant is closed Wednesday we could have clients and staff come out to eat in a controlled environment,” Donny said.

Seeker was “absolutely” on board, Monica said.

“We ran with it,” Donny said. The restaurant’s owner, his mother Kim, was also enthusiastic.

For the last five weeks, groups of clients from different Lakeshore facilities have gotten to go out and have sit down meals.

On Wednesday, a group from Warren got to order from a special menu. Donny prepared their food — pizza, steak, or chicken fingers.

Monica stepped in as the wait staff.

Lakeshore reimbursed the meals up to its limit. Jack’s didn’t make money on the visit, but “it’s basically a wash,” Donny said.

“They have been super excited to get out today,” Direct Support Professional Jennie Punch said.

“It’s good food here,” Tina Hoffner said. “This is my favorite place to eat. I can’t wait for my food.”

She ordered the steak — a rare treat. “I never have steak,” she said.

Mike Stine and Joe Rounds also ordered steak.

“It’s been a while because of the COVID,” Stine said.

Asked how long it has been since he has eaten in a restaurant, Andrew Theim said, “first time since March.”

He went for the pizza. “Wait til you see my pizza,” he said. “It’s really huge.”

Like Theim, Clifford VanTassel ordered pizza.

The restaurant focuses on its ambiance, Donny said, and Scott Petitt appreciated his surroundings while waiting for his chicken fingers. “I like the decorations,” he said.

Kevin Lewandowski also ordered chicken.

The Lakeshore outings to Jack’s may end soon. The Backstroms hope their business will begin to pick up.

But, they are popular right now.

“This was planned a couple months ago,” Direct Support Professional Shaley Stockdale said.

“I’m glad it was,” Stine said.

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