How the Novel Corona Cookbook was born

By: Michele Jahncke

The other waitstaff and I had gotten used to scrubbing our hands like a surgeon, sucking lozenges to keep from having to clear our throats, balancing plates by their rimmiest rims when March 17, 2020 dawned. It was a day like none other. Following the path of other states before it, this was the day Iowa restaurants were closed to dine-in service.

Now, we are known for our groundbreaking twists on Iowa comfort food, warm hospitality, and that stool that Clint Eastwood sat on (which always stays warm). A destination for dine-in and not necessarily take-out. Tourist season was just ramping up and it felt like the rug was being pulled out from under us from two directions. Our livelihood both in economy and possibly in health was yanked like never before.

The average restaurant life expectancy is five years. We are coming up on 150. Filling out government paperwork and waiting are clearly not our forte. We are tenacious and like a momma tiger, we have a lot of mouths to feed – staff, customers, and our own families. Thinking outside the Styrofoam box…this is what we are good at. This is how the Novel Corona Cookbook was born.