Providence Catering has partnered with WinMock at Kinderton in Bermuda Run to open a pop-up restaurant on weekends, beginning July 31.
Providence, a program of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina, and WinMock came up with the idea of a pop-up partly to provide work for its catering employees, who have had few catering jobs this spring and summer because of COVID-19, and also to raise money for Second Harvest.
Providence also has a restaurant inside the DoubleTree Inn by Hilton, 5790 University Parkway, but it has been serving only hotel guests for room service and the public for takeout. The restaurant has its own separate staff and currently doesn’t have enough business to take on more employees.
Providence chose WinMock, at 168 East Kinderton Way in Bermuda Run, for the pop-up because WinMock — a former dairy farm turned into a wedding and events venue — has been a longtime catering client.
Chef Jeff Bacon, the executive director of Providence Restaurant and Catering, and his team have created a special three-course menu for the pop-up with choices of salads, entrees and desserts.
Diners can choose a first course of mozzarella and tomato salad or strawberry and watermelon salad.
Entrees include steak roulade with spinach, pine nuts and goat cheese; grilled local Joyce Farms chicken with Texas Pete honey gastrique; and grilled cauliflower steak with lemon tarragon and lentil barley risotto.
Dessert choices are a summer berry cheesecake from DJ’s Cheesecakes or a “chocolate overload” of a flourless chocolate cake with ganache and ice cream.
The children’s menu includes a chicken, bacon and Ranch mac ’n’ cheese.
Providence said that the meals will be provided in a safe, clean, spacious environment that follows social-distancing and other state COVID-19 guidelines. Both indoor and outdoor seating will be available. And the evenings will include live music.
WinMock’s barn has 20,000 square feet of space, allowing plenty of room for social distancing. It has an upstairs, a downstairs and a patio. Normally, WinMock could seat 350 for a sit-down dinner, said Bill Adams, WinMock’s director of corporate sales. He said he’s aiming for 150 seats during the pop-ups.
WinMock will provide tables and chairs, decorations, bartenders and other support staff, Adams said.
“We’ve been pretty much closed since March, so we have all this free space,” he said.
He said that WinMock has done a few virtual events but has had a lot of cancellations. A lot of spring weddings have been pushed back to August — but it’s uncertain if any of those will take place.
“We’ve had our hourly employees furloughed,” Adams said. “We’ve weathered the storm so far, but as the storm continues, you just get beat up. Everyone thought that this would be just a month.”
Bacon said that the dinners are a way to help his catering staff members keep their cooking chops in shape while raising a little money for Second Harvest, which has been responding to an increased need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve particularly seen a big increase in community meals. We had been doing 2,500 meals a week. Now we’re doing 27,000 a week. We’re lucky that we haven’t had to lay anyone off, but basically all the catering and most of the restaurant staff have moved over to Second Harvest to help with community meals.”
This spring, Bacon helped organize Heard Collaborative Café, a program that put together volunteers chefs and others from throughout the community to prepare free meals for restaurant workers and others displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Providence Catering still has a lot of events on the books for the fall. “So I want to get the staff ready — in case things don’t get canceled,” Bacon said.
While he’s at it, he hopes the pop-up serves to do a little marketing for Providence and WinMock.
Each three-course meal for the pop-up costs $25, or $8 for children under 10. Tea, coffee and water are included, and diners can buy drink tickets for beer, wine, soda or craft cocktails for an additional fee.
People can buy tickets for set times online through EventBrite.com.