Sunderland restaurants gain temporary approval to sell groceries

Staff Writer
Saturday, May 30, 2020

SUNDERLAND — Blue Heron co-owner Deborah Snow knew her customers would love to get foods her restaurant has access to, especially given the recent shortage of products at grocery stores. She also was seeking a way to keep her business viable amid the pandemic.

So, Snow went before the Select Board to request permission to sell groceries from her North Main Street restaurant. At a subsequent board meeting, the board approved her request — provided her plan for doing so was reviewed and approved by the Board of Health — and agreed to allow all restaurants in town to sell groceries, if they so choose, through Aug. 1.

As of this week, Snow’s plan is pending approval from the Board of Health.

“I think we should do whatever we can,” said Select Board member Tom Fydenkevez, who listed a number of local restaurants still open for takeout, including Goten of Japan, Frontier Pizza and BridgeSide Grille. “They’re all open for business, and we need to support those businesses.”

The decision followed a discussion among members of the Select Board, Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals in a meeting last week.

“I think we should be doing everything we can to support local business,” Planning Board Chair Dana Roscoe agreed.

According to Town Administrator Geoff Kravitz, individual restaurants would need to submit a plan to the Select Board, which would then review the plan with the Board of Health. These plans should include how grocery pickup would work, and how meat and vegetables would be safely packaged.

In Snow’s case, the Blue Heron recently opened up for takeout sales, with cooks set up so they can work while maintaining social distancing. But, she said, having the option to sell groceries will provide a new revenue stream.

“People want us to stay alive,” she said, “as we want all our little businesses to do.”