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As New Jersey businesses are confronted by unprecedented challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, NJBIA is highlighting some of the unique and uplifting ways business owners are responding across the state. If you have a story to share, please email it to communications@njbia.org.

‘Pay-What-You-Can’ Meal Menu

Chris Wood, owner of Woody’s Ocean Grille in Sea Bright, was the spark that ignited Sea Bright Rising, a community relief effort after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 that began with Woody’s feeding first responders and blossomed into a nonprofit that distributed nearly $2 million in donated cash assistance and supplies to help residents and businesses rebuild.

So it’s no surprise to find this business owner stepping up once more for neighbors who have fallen on hard times during the coronavirus pandemic. This week Woody’s began offering a special pay-what-you-can takeout menu with a suggested price of $10 – or whatever the customer can afford.

“You can pay the suggested price of $10 or pay $5, $1 or pay nothing,” Wood said in a Facebook post announcing the daily pay-what-you-can menu. “We’re here to make sure our neighbors have food on the table.”

Woody’s regular menu, as well as the pay-what-you-can menu, are available 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Thursday’s pay-what-you-can menu included pulled pork, mac and cheese and chicken wings. All meals are now takeout because of the governor’s order suspending eat-in dining at restaurants in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Wood said surprisingly few customers have asked for free meals since he started the pay-what-you-can menu a few days ago, but he expects that to change in the weeks ahead as job losses connected to the coronavirus continue to mount.

“This community probably has a little more holding power for now, but here are a lot of people who are going to be in need of assistance soon,” Wood told NJBT. “Neighbors helping neighbors is what it’s all about.”

Creativity in a Crisis

The Asbury Park Press recently detailed some of the ways that local businesses are trying to be creative in responding to their customers’ needs during the coronavirus crisis.

“Fitness by the Sea in Avon has allowed members to check out equipment for a week so they could work out at home. The day before the governor’s announcement, it had started offering at-home workouts to members,” reporters Michael Diamond and Alex Gecan wrote on Tuesday.

OceanFirst bank is also helping customers going through financial hardship due to the coronavirus, the Asbury Park Press said. It has offered public-accommodation businesses, like restaurants and retailers, interest-only loan payments for 90 days and working capital facilities of up to $100,000.

“It also said health care workers and emergency responders could receive deferral of their residential mortgage or consumer loan payments for 90 days. Other borrowers affected by the coronavirus would be considered as well,” the Asbury Park Press wrote.

When it comes to creativity, the Grant Street Café in Dumont is literally on a roll.  In a nod to one of the most vexing shortages plaguing residents right now, this Bergen County restaurant is giving away a free roll of toilet paper with every $20 curbside delivery order. Anne-Marie Caruso, of the Bergen Record, posted a video of the restaurant’s Chris DeLaura in rollerblades skating the deliveries out the door to his customers.