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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Help plants survive winter weather

If you’re like me, you buy new perennials, trees and shrubs every year. Most plants sold locally are hardy, but not all. It’s good to know the “zone hardiness” of plants before you buy them, and how the zone maps work. In a nutshell, the colder the climatic zone, the lower the number.

a green plant in a garden: Blue Moon wisteria blooms on new wood, so it's not bothered by cold winters.

© Henry Homeyer
Blue Moon wisteria blooms on new wood, so it’s not bothered by cold winters.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has created maps showing the climatic zones of all states and regions. They are based on many years of temperature records, and each zone is rated according to the coldest average temperatures. Summer temperatures are not considered in creating the hardiness zones.

Each zone covers a 10-degree range of temperatures. The coldest zone in New England is Zone 3, which includes places where temperatures range between 40 and 30 degrees below zero each winter. Some maps include an “a” and “b” designation to further describe the zones. An “a” is 5 degrees colder than a “b”. So Zone 4a is minus 25 to minus 30, and 4b is minus 20 to minus 25.

Trees and perennial plants that survive in Zone 4 — which includes

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