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Northland Steps Up: Owners of closed Wisconsin restaurant give away their food

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Cable, WI -- We've done several stories this week on Twin Ports restaurants, and how they are impacted by the sudden, forced closures.

Most of them are now getting by with takeout and delivery.

But what about those rural restaurants and supper clubs way out in the woods?

There is almost nothing they can do.

Yet owners of The Birches restaurant in Cable are spending this tough time helping people who are in an even tougher spot.

Rob and Rachel Vallone opened The Birches restaurant less than two years ago.

"This is our life savings," said Rob Vallone.

They moved to this area where they loved vacationing, and took a leap of faith, buying a century old building.

"We started with two camping stools, a steam table and a barbecue grill outside," said Vallone.

But in a short amount of time, their steaks and cocktails became popular, helping bring in the area's seasonal visitors.

"Just started cooking from the heart and people were really receptive," said Vallone.

A parking lot filled with 4-wheelers in the summer, and snowmobiles in winter.

Traffic that all came to a screeching halt this week.

"And then the orders came from Governor Evers on Tuesday. Shut it down at 5 o' clock. And from there it's been a giant what-if," said Vallone.

"We've had countless nights in the last few days where we just sit and talk about the what-ifs," said Rachel Vallone.

Going to takeout and delivery is not an option because of their rural location.

So now it is just a waiting game they hope won't last into summer.

"It would close us down," said Rob Vallone.

But in the meantime, the Vallones have decided to give away their food, caring for people in their community who have it worse.

"We just bought a week worth of food. People are locked in their homes. Our Meals On Wheels program was canceled. A lot of the older folks are scared to death, said Vallone.

They are holding two drive-up events, to load up the freezers of area veterans, and anyone else who needs some help.

The first is this Sunday at the Hayward Veterans Community Center, from 3 p.m. to whenever they run out of food.

The second will be the following Sunday at The American Legion in Cable, also from 3 p.m. until food is gone.

Donations will be accepted.

The Vallones also say other area restaurants, bars and resorts are in the same boat as them, and many may collaborate soon to try to make it through to when they can reopen.

Dan Wolfe

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