Since 2014, The Bistro, a local family-owned café, has attracted customers with its food and welcoming setting, perfect for meeting friends or colleagues for breakfast or lunch.
“My favorite thing on the menu is the flavored lemonade, but I also enjoy their flatbread pizzas and salads. The Bistro is a Queen Creek treasure,” customer Holly Dunn said.
In mid-March, as the pandemic’s impact started being felt across Arizona, owners Blake and Nicole Mastyk decided they needed to modify their operations.
“The corona’s here, and in an effort to keep our family business afloat, we’re changing things up at The Bistro for a little while,” Blake Mastyk said in a video posted to the café’s Facebook page on March 17.
Four grocery market days were held at The Bistro, on the northeast corner of South Ellsworth Road and East Sierra Park Boulevard, when many shelves were bare in corporate grocery stores.
The Bistro’s market offered not only essentials like milk, butter and eggs, but also some of their special products, like house-made mozzarella and pesto.
For an hour each morning, seniors were given priority to shop in the store or drive up to the curb, hand over a grocery list, and have the Bistro’s employees do the shopping for them. For the rest of each day, the general public could come and shop for groceries and paper goods, while sipping custom coffees, teas, shakes or lemonades.
The grocery market allowed customers to support a local business while finding staples that had become unavailable in regular grocery stores.
“My mom just had surgery, so we're trying to prevent [my parents] from going out. They said they were looking for eggs, bread, you know, a couple of those staples that they hadn’t been able to find. So when I heard that that [The Bistro] had eggs, I went and got a couple dozen of those eggs and delivered it to them,” customer Jamalee Rogers said.
Blake Mastyk said he got the idea to start a grocery market from a neighbor, who asked him if he had any eggs in his restaurant. Mr. Mastyk had about 150 dozen eggs, so he brought home 30 dozen, set up shop in his garage, and posted on his neighborhood Facebook page inviting people to come by if they needed to buy eggs.
“I sold out of 30 dozen eggs in 30 minutes. I never even left the garage,” he said.
The hour reserved for seniors turned out to be the busiest time, Mr. Mastyk said, and many people appreciated being able to use the curbside pick-up option.
“It was awesome just being able to give some kind of peace of mind when it was really crazy,” he said.
The Bistro is now closed because of Arizona’s stay-at-home order. But the Mastyks hope to be back to business as usual when the order is lifted.
“The community has never been anything but great to us,” Mr. Mastyk said. “I think this community is great, and we should be able to come back pretty strong.”
Editor's note: Sarah Hunt wrote the story for a class at the Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.