River Saint Joe brewery and restaurant to host food giveaway Wednesday

BUCHANAN — River Saint Joe brewery and restaurant opened its doors, in a limited capacity, to the community on April 2, and now its staff is looking to give back to the community.

The establishment’s head of house, Lisa Shanahan, fell in love with southwest Michigan growing up. As a Chicago native, Shanahan was used to visiting Michigan City and New Buffalo during her summers. She was brought to the area by River Saint Joe’s head chef Carly Bielecki. Shanahan recalls feeling right at home in the Buchanan area, and moved in within two weeks of being offered the position.

This week, she hopes to be a part of the restaurant’s mission to give back to a community that has supported River Saint Joe’s opening amid the challenges presented by COVID-19.

This Wednesday, on Earth Day, River Saint Joe will be hosting a food giveaway for those in need. The business leaders plan to begin the giveaway at 11 a.m., and to continue until supplies run out. Staff plan to update their social media on Instagram and Facebook as supplies are spoken for.

“We have joined up with a couple of our distributors and purveyors because they have product that is otherwise going to waste,” Shanahan said. “We have access to a community and folks that have been nothing but supportive of us. The least we can do is reciprocate that.”

River Saint Joe plans to have an outdoor tent set up to distribute boxes of food including pork shoulder, drumsticks and organic milk. In each box, there will be recipes for ways to prepare a meal. Providers of the food include Cherry Capital Foods out of Traverse City, Bit of Swiss from Stevensville and Nelson’s Herbs from Edwardsburg.

“We realized that at River Saint Joe, we are in a unique position to give back to a community that has been supporting us even before we opened,” Shanahan said. “This shut down has affected and reached every single aspect of this very diverse area and industry.”

She cited everyone in the food and service industry from small business owners, including chain and franchise restaurants, distributors and purveyors.

“We definitely want to set aside a number of the boxes for folks in the restaurant industry, but we’re not going to discriminate against anyone who has a need, or knows someone who needs it, to come take advantage,” Shanahan said. “This is not the last time we’re going to do something like this.”

Seeing their friends in the service and food industry get laid off during mandates and closures due to the COVID-19 virus, the workers at River Saint Joe felt a comradery with their peers and wanted to help.

Shanahan has worked in the food industry for 12 years, from farms and kitchens to baseball stadiums and hotels. According to her, she has seen it all. The opportunity to be a part of River Saint Joe and work with Bielecki, paired with her love for the area, only makes her want to help more.

“Even before anybody met any of us, we had support and excitement momentum,” Shanahan said. “This is one of the easiest ways to thank everyone for that.”