These are trying times to say the least. Whether you’ve lost a loved one or friend, a job, income, your business, COVID-19 has changed our lives. We’re broken-hearted for those who have lost their lives to this terrible virus and for their families. For businesses in our county that have taken a hit, we hope this will be over sooner than later.

Many have done their part to keep businesses alive. Sometimes it’s just not enough. As a food critic and reviewer, this has been a challenging time. I’ve listened to owners, managers, and staff who have been affected, and it was upsetting to hear. There were many stories about how the community is helping by ordering food to-go. Until this complete stay-at-home order is lifted, let’s continue to support our restaurants.

Unfortunately, we’ve suffered a tremendous loss. Several of my friends in the industry will be closing, including Jim Johanek of Coyote Canyon, and Russell McDowell of Bakers Square.

Jim Johanek, owner, and operator of Coyote Canyon, recently contacted me about the closing. Jim, as you know, is a wonderful businessman who has given back to his community. I know it was hard for him to tell his staff that Coyote Canyon would not be re-opening under his ownership. Many of those folks have been with him for quite a while.

In his Facebook post, which he wrote, “The long shutdown and uncertainty of an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant, (without major conceptual changes), in a post-pandemic world led us to this very difficult decision.” He did say that he is in “negotiations with our parent company to either transfer ownership or enter into a lease agreement to have them operate.” Of course, the negotiations are just beginning, and he promised to keep us posted.

“We appreciate you, our loyal guests, for being a part of our Coyote family for the past 18 years,” he continued.

Coyote Canyon has been the venue for many happy occasions in our community. I know our family has celebrated there many times and have left full and very pleased with the food and the staff.

Jim never forgot the veterans. Every second and fourth Wednesday of the month, veterans were invited to attend a breakfast. The cost? Just $7! I attended several of those breakfasts. The veterans telling their stories of serving our country, whether here or overseas, were interesting, some heartbreaking. Each had their own story to share.

I will miss the breakfasts — homemade biscuits, gravy, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage. If that weren’t enough, you could go to the grill and order steak, French toast, pancakes, and more. Not to forget the buffet that was loaded with fresh garden salads, fresh fruits, vegetables, fried chicken, shrimp and more.

Jim, we’ll miss Coyote Canyon terribly, but know we can always find you at Jimmy Jo’s BBQ!

•••

In other sad news for our community, Bakers Square Restaurant is closed. Russell McDowell, the manager, gave so much to this community over the years. The staff there was amazing. I’m sure it had to do with having a great leader. Tammi Selvy, server, had been there for decades as were some other dedicated employees.

One of my first clients for my video company was Bakers Square Corporation. I spent many hours taping how pies were made in their commissary. I was impressed with the quality of the product and with the head chef. I produced many pie videos for restaurants. I was probably the only outsider who had the real recipe for French Silk pie, but I was sworn never to give it out.

Later, I was hired for their corporate office to work in marketing writing and producing video newsletters for the restaurants. It was great to travel across America interviewing staff, bakers, and even going to a pie-eating contest that featured Kathy Ireland.

Sadly, like many corporate restaurants, we were bought out by a company in Denver, leaving all of us unemployed. Nevertheless, I’ve always been faithful to the restaurant because of the leadership – customer satisfaction first!

Best of luck to all the staff at Bakers Square.

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