More than a Meal

Restaurants now offer groceries, too 

Our collective food landscape has changed since the coronavirus arrived. Restaurants have closed their dining rooms and grocery stores now require masks and physical distancing. We’ve been asked to consolidate our shopping trips. Finding the staples to fill your pantry and fridge has become frankly, a bit stressful for some. Pair that with the recent news that beef, chicken and pork processing plants are in danger of shutting down and putting a crimp in the national supply chain? Cue the stress eating. 

Now, there’s a growing number of ways to get groceries in Chesapeake communities that don’t involve traditional grocery stores at all.  

Get It To-Go  

While restaurants are limited to making meals for carry-out or delivery, much of their bulk-sized quantities of supplies are going unused. To solve their oversupply problem and keep business going, some restaurants are now selling groceries and paper goods directly to customers. 

Some restaurants are now selling groceries and paper goods to customers directly.  

One such business is Café Mezzanotte in Severna Park. This white-tablecloth Italian dining spot is serving its standard menu for delivery and curbside carryout, but now is also selling grocery items in its own organic market. 

“We began with a seafood market in late March,” saws owner Kosmas “Tommie” Koukoulis. “Our current organic market began in early April and now includes seafood, produce and meats.” 

Koukoulis says the market was born out of three goals. One, to find new ways for the restaurant to thrive during the pandemic. Two, to support local farmers and “the largest co-op we buy from (Lancaster Farm Fresh), which is both local and organic. Three, “to give the community access to these great products.”( 

The market sells out every week—just in time for new products to arrive for the next week’s market. 

The Café Mezzanotte market changes weekly to reflect the availability of offerings from the farmers. A typical market menu offers organic fruits, dairy, eggs, jams, cheese, honey, beverages and a variety of vegetables including hydroponically grown tomatoes, lettuce, herbs from the Eastern Shore. And, adds, Koukoulis, “arguably the best salmon money can buy from Ora King Salmon (NZ).” “New to the market are Creekstone Farms Beef Box (not local but certainly the quality that we demand) and Local Pork and Poultry box.” 

Find more info at, their Facebook page or call 410-647-1100. 

If you have a craving for kraut, pilsner or sauerbraten, Old Stein Inn on the Mayo peninsula fits the bill—and now fills your grocery bags, too. Old Stein Inn now offers produce boxes and protein boxes on their carryout menu as well as a la carte butter, coffee, sugar, eggs, cream, milk, bacon, and paper goods. Find the boxes on their Facebook page or or call 410-798-1544. 

There are grocery items available from places like Chart House in Annapolis, Harvest Thyme in Davidsonville, Adam’s Ribs in Eastport, Vida Taco in Severna Park and many more. 

The Lighthouse Restaurant in Solomons began offering customers groceries in early March. Owners Rusty and Nick Shriver know that paying it forward this way will pay off for them in the long run. 

“We have been in the industry for 22 years and we are family-owned and still have some employees that have stuck with us,” says Rusty Shriver. “Right now, we are working harder for less profit because we want to support the community instead.” 

With support from Sysco Eastern Maryland, the restaurant began ordering extra items to be sold to their community. The Lighthouse sold 100 one-pound packages of yeast—a hot commodity— within hours; Easter ribeye loins sold out just as quickly, as did 400 cases of chicken wing 

You can find The Lighthouse Restaurant’s current menu and grocery offerings on their Facebook page. 

Shriver says the pandemic’s effect on his business has been the biggest obstacle he’s ever faced during his career. “The longer it goes on, it’s going to get more challenging,” he said. “The food shortage is a real problem, but hopefully we can reopen soon and I know our government will do it with safety in mind for the public. I was raised in the belief that small business is the backbone of this country. So, we do what we have to do to operate and help the community under the imposed guidelines.” 

It’s a strategy Shriver is counting on to help him bounce back. “I one hundred percent believe it’s going to come back tenfold when this is over. The community is embracing what we are doing and that’s payment enough.”