Quarantine Chronicles #7 – Jillian Moskites, Chef

This is the seventh part in a series of images and interviews about how life has changed (or not) during the COVID-19 quarantine. The purpose is to show how we’re all in this together and we’re not all that dissimilar.

Jillian Moskites and I met 11 years ago in a moms-to-be group. We bonded over pregnancy cravings and hormones. 😉 Along with her husband, she owns a food truck and restaurant called The Whey Station (specialty is grilled cheese!). She’s been a winning contestant on the Food Network show Chopped and she recently went back to compete with other champs and judges.

Q. What is the biggest way that the stay-home orders and quarantine have affected your work?

A. We’re definitely in the wrong business for the times. Both of our businesses [restaurant and food truck] are struggling, and watching every food truck event and festival get cancelled – it’s hard.

I’m blessed because Chopped will keep our business in people’s minds. It’s hard and competitive. Everyone’s giving food away to the hospital workers, and that’s great. We feed the homeless at the shelter that’s a few blocks from our restaurant. We make 75 box lunches every Sunday for the shelter and our local YMCA, and we feed the homeless on the street after that. We use donations to make those meals, so that’s been good. 

We had been doing takeout at our restaurant, but some of our staff wasn’t comfortable working  so they decided to stay home. Being that we have six kids and are homeschooling five of them, it’s just not possible for us, by ourselves, to chop and prep and cook for takeout, so we made the decision to close. Fortunately we are using this time to have some renovation done inside our restaurant, so the timing on that is good. 

On May 20, we can do outdoor seating. I’m on main street in a small town. On a good day, I have 12-15 seats outside. If I have to do 6 ft between, I’ll have like two tables outside. My waitresses can’t make enough money with that, so I’m not sure what will happen then. 

My husband was great with the SBA loans and was able to secure us some relief there. 

Q. What’s your silver lining?

A. As far as the restaurant, the silver lining is getting the work renovation work done during this shut down instead of having to close the restaurant during regular service. Beyond that, we are taking a good break after nine years of pushing and pushing to get the business going. 

Thanks, Jillian, for sitting down and spending a few minutes with me to help me connect to people. 🙂 I was so happy to see you on Chopped again, and I know you’re eager to get back in the food truck and on the road! 😉

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