Sisters Stacey Chapman and Janae Barton, with her husband Corey Barton, have owned the Aurora Colony Pub in rural Marion County for five years. Due to the state government’s Stay Home Order because of COVID-19, the Aurora Colony Pub and other restaurant owners like them are now limited to selling take-out orders—a devastating blow to local and small entrepreneurs.
“We couldn’t keep going without support from Northwest Hazelnut and other local businesses who have stepped up regular orders—companies like Columbia Helicopters, a local credit union, even Burgerville—are placing orders. In return we are trying to do the same. We’re trying to do everything local because that’s the heart of everything,” says Chapman.
One long-time Aurora Colony customer is the staff at Northwest Hazelnut Company, a locally owned food processing company, whose owners saw an opportunity to support a neighbor while also helping their employees.
“When we saw this coming, we decided to buy lunch for every employee in the company two or three days a week. For many of our employees, their spouses have lost their jobs and locally owned restaurants in the area are hit hard,” adds Shaun George, co-owner of Northwest Hazelnut Company with his brother Larry. “We work from a predictable menu with restaurant owners that helps keep them efficient and enhances profits, while giving our employees a break from the cost and inconvenience of bringing in lunch.”
The George brothers first called Stacey and Janae on March 17th to deliver over 50 lunches to their staff and crew at the Hubbard plant, following up with a weekly Friday order for about 50 lunches for the foreseeable duration of the Stay Home Order.
“It’s about small business helping small business,” says George. “It worked so well last week that this week we added another restaurant. We’re now buying lunch on Tuesdays and Fridays for everyone in the company and we hope to add a third—El Tule Taqueria in Woodburn—next week.”
This week the Georges added another favorite lunch spot, Joy Teriyaki of Wilsonville, setting up Tuesday take-outs for 50 or more weekly lunches. Justin Hwang, President of Joy Teriyaki, told the Oregon Small Business Association, “Words don’t properly convey how much Northwest Hazelnut Company’s support means to me. They’ve started ordering 40-50 Teriyaki Bowls from my Wilsonville restaurant weekly, which has kept that mom and pop operation up and running.”
Stacey Chapman says, “I can’t say how much those of us at Aurora Colony Pub appreciate the George’s efforts. Their staff are frequent customers and their weekly order is large enough that it’s helped us tremendously.”
Once delivered to the front office, Northwest Hazelnut Company’s COVID-19 safety officer and regulatory specialist, Claudia Arreola, has drafted policies to implement the governor’s Order and maintain social distance between employees. Measures include staggering lunch shifts and following a sanitizing protocol between lunch shifts or use of tables and surfaces. In addition, work crews are kept separated, among many other new measures.
“We’re taking every precaution to help our employees and help local businesses at the same time,” says Arreola.
Agricultural and food processors, like Northwest Hazelnut, are an essential function of our economy and part of America’s critical infrastructure sectors. Food and agriculture workers have a special responsibility to continue a processing schedule and maintain access to an uninterrupted and safe food supply.