Cedar Rapids area restaurants rely on loyal customers, new ideas to survive pandemic

By Dorothy de Souza Guedes, correspondent

Jennifer Goodlove’s business got a boost from an unexpected source during the pandemic — gnomes.

“The gnomes and takeout are what saved me last year and this year,” Goodlove said. “We’re talking thousands of gnomes.”

She stocks decorative gnomes for every season and occasion at Farmer’s Daughter’s Market, a restaurant, market and gift shop at 495 Miller Rd., Hiawatha.

“We have a lot of repeat customers. What we saw this year, last year was people picking and choosing who they want to support,” Goodlove said. “They go out of their way.”

2020 was challenging for restaurants and bars that had to start thinking outside the box once the pandemic hit and restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 were put in place.

For Goodlove, new ideas increased sales, but not everyone was as lucky. January was a record-breaking month for the Farmer’s Daughter’s Market, the best in 13 years — and up 23 percent over 2020.

Goodlove, who spent years in human resources before returning to Iowa from Chicago, thinks that because she had no preconceived notions about what’s not possible, she’s been more willing to try new ideas.

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