St. Charles deli adds Mexican fare to the menu
It doesn't hurt to underestimate potential success when you change your business model a bit.
Daniel and Joanna Migo know that premise well, having taken what seemed to be an unusual step in adding a Mexican food menu to their European DRM Deli & Café menu on the east side of St. Charles -- and getting a positive response.
For the past month, the kitchen staff at DRM Deli has been essentially operating for two restaurants, also creating dishes for Los Amigos Taqueria.
The combination doesn't change much in how DRM Deli has operated since the Migos opened it about 3½ years ago at 610 E. Main St. to rave reviews. But it definitely adds the Mexican fare. "It's still us, same owners and same chef," said Joanna Migo. "The original idea to add Mexican food was for it to be a popup restaurant for orders on DoorDash."
It felt so much like the same operation, with the chef of DRM and his family being from Mexico City, to begin with, that Migo and her husband weren't even going to mention it, let alone promote it.
"But our loyal customers started asking, what is that, when seeing the dishes come out of the kitchen," she said. "So, we figured we would just tell everybody."
And that's what has happened, with the DRM Del & Café website, www.drmeurocafe.com, now touting "combo dinner nights" for both restaurants from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
But the Mexican food is offered every day of the week from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
It's been tricky for all restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic, and it's been no different for European DRM and its Mexican food addition.
"People can order through DoorDash or can order and come in for pickup from both menus," Migo said.
While it is fairly common to see families choose from both menus -- with a mom buying a deli sandwich, a dad buying tacos, a son getting a grilled cheese and a daughter getting pierogies. It is not uncommon to see customers try some strange combinations.
"We will do some combos a little, but some people are really hard-core in their combinations," Migo said. "We would just say something like, you don't really combine those things, but we like having fun with it -- if that's what they want."
It's hard to imagine what sort of crazy combinations one could create. Maybe a polish sausage with black beans and rice? Or a roast beef taco with salsa? OK, I'll stop there before I ruin this for everyone.
As restaurants get ready to move into another phase of recovery from the pandemic with some indoor dining, the Migos don't want to miss out on the outdoor dining. So far, the weather has cooperated.
They are working adding a temporary outdoor patio area on the side of the restaurant with about 10 tables available for lunch or dinner.
"We're looking forward to phasing in the indoor seating," Migo added. "But with the patio, it would be like fast-casual; put in your order and go out and sit down."
Either way, those who visit the European DRM Deli & Café will have to remember to tell others that they also visited Los Amigos Taqueria at the same place and same time.
"We weren't sure about this because Mexican food is so competitive," Migo noted. "But people love our Polish cooking, and they trust us, so it's just a matter of sharing family traditions and recipes (for both types of food)."
Tough for the sales:
As much as people enjoy garage sales -- and churches and other organizations have used that model for fundraisers -- it has become one of the more challenging events to put on with coronavirus guidelines and safety concerns.
So it is that the annual garage sale at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Batavia has become yet another event of this type to have to cancel and hope for better things next year.
Immanuel Lutheran is not alone in this category, as the citywide garage sales throughout the area are canceled until further notice. Though it is a different animal, the DejaVu Thrift Shop in Geneva, which raises money for St. Vincent DePaul charity, has reopened under new guidelines and safety procedures.
But garage sale operations that benefit local churches aren't faring as well.
"It is with an extremely sad heart that the 2020 garage sale is canceled," said Cindy Rueffer, co-chair of the annual event at the Batavia church at 950 Hart Road.
The annual sale is a major project for the church, as organizers had hoped to get enough volunteers to come forward to determine if it was possible or feasible.
"We did not take our decision lightly," Rueffer said. "We took into consideration the CDC guidelines as well as all the rules that need to be in place for us to safely operate the sale."
When considering the volunteer workers as well as those who would come to the church for the sale, it was determined this event had to wait a year.
"Our volunteer workers mainly fall into the 'at-risk' category for their age, and we also have the category of young workers who have young kids at home," she added.
Knowing that the event has raised money in the past and served as an event to meet new people and allow people to donate items and look for great deals, Rueffer has her mind set straight on what lies ahead.
"God has truly blessed this ministry, and we know although 2020 is canceled, the 2021 annual sale will be awesome."
T-shirt says it all:
The COVID-19 pandemic has made a shambles of summer festivals, and it has certainly been odd not attending Swedish Days in Geneva the past few days.
But the Geneva Chamber of Commerce has a sense of humor and is displaying it on a T-shirt it is selling that states, "Swedish Days 2020 … Nope."
The shirts are on sale on the chamber website, www.genevachamber.com, as part of the Virtual Swedish Days items and events taking place through Sunday, June 28. At $14 each, sales of the shirts will provide money to be distributed equally to the organizations that would normally have been hosting food booths during the festival.
There are several interesting things for kids through the online setup on Friday, June 26. And local favorite Dennis O'Brien will present a live concert from his home on Saturday, June 27, for people to view on their computer/TV screens.
The Geneva Public Works Department has probably answered this call on occasion in the past. Still, last week area residents were happy to hear two of its employees performed a rescue mission for six baby ducklings caught in a sewer.
The chef at Stockholm's noticed a "worried mother duck" in the restaurant parking lot, and Stockholm's notified the city.
Mama duck was quick to gather her babies after they were taken out of the storm sewer.
The city employees put a cover over the sewer grate to make sure the wandering ducklings wouldn't stumble into trouble again.
Weights of the world:
A panic run on toilet paper in the early days of the pandemic scare made a little sense. But a run on hand weights? Didn't see that one coming.
We put on the masks last week to go to various stores to hunt down a set of vinyl coated eight-pound hand weights that my wife needed for an exercise class.
At each store, the result was the same. The racks upon which these weights are generally stacked were entirely empty.
It appears that working out at home clicked in for a lot of people. Or maybe the production of these items came to a standstill during the economic shutdown.
Either way, hand weights have joined toilet paper as pandemic victims.