Column | Because sometimes it takes a village: Local diner says, “We need your help!”

Next Friday it looks like I will again be able to enjoy a breakfast of biscuits and gravy from Village Deli on Kirkwood Avenue.

A temporary shutdown was supposed to go through Sept. 1. There was no word as that date came and went, so speculation had tended towards permanent closure.

But in a Facebook post this past Friday morning, the diner announced an attempted re-opening on a limited basis starting Sept. 17.

According to the Facebook post, online orders only will be taken on Fridays, with full table service for “very limited seating” to be offered on Saturdays and Sundays.

The missing ingredient for a more ambitious re-opening is staff. The Facebook post invites people to apply for positions online.  As of Sunday morning, the Facebook post has been shared 120 times. That’s a measure of the affection Bloomington has for the place.

Lots of folks don’t hang out on Facebook. If you have a network that includes folks looking for work, please help spread the word.

And to be clear, it’s not just Village Deli that needs more staff.

I think the next several months could help decide what Bloomington’s retail and restaurant landscape looks like in the downtown area through the mid-2020s.

On Sunday morning, a quick lap around the courthouse square and down Kirkwood Avenue confirmed that Village Deli is not the only place looking for help. Here’s a list of the 14 places I saw with help-wanted signs or notices about staff shortages: B-Town Diner; Baked!; Cafe Pizzaria; The Indiana Store; Nick’s; Five Guys; Noodles and Company; Soma; CVS; Pili’s Party Taco & Deli; Bub’s; Bloomington Bagel Company; B-Town Smoke Time; and Taco Bell.

And I know there’s plenty more places looking for help that don’t happen to have a sign posted on their front window. One of those is my favorite place of all: Function Brewing. From their Facebook post a week ago,  “The position requires multitasking, efficiency, precision, and the ability to follow directions independently. Prior kitchen experience is a plus but not required as this can be a good first kitchen job.”

Close readers of this column might have pieced together that my plan next Friday to eat biscuits and gravy from Village Deli will mean ordering it online for takeout.

Is biscuits and gravy the kind of food anybody wants to eat as a takeout item? Yes.

I have written about this before, a few years ago when I was working as a reporter for the Pierre Capital Journal in South Dakota. From a biscuits-and-gravy roundup column I wrote for the Cap Journal:

A place where the biscuits and gravy is served on a styrofoam plate is a bit closer, right around the corner from my place in Fort Pierre – Cowboy Country Store. It’s a convenience store connected to a gas station. Plasticware is the only option for shoveling the sausage-gravy-laden biscuit into your mouth.

But I like eating biscuits and gravy at the Cowboy Country Store. Because the food itself tastes exactly like biscuits and gravy is supposed to taste.

How is biscuits and gravy supposed to taste? Like love, that’s what.

Here, I’ll explain. Back in the late 1980s I was busy falling in love with a young woman in Bloomington, Indiana, and part of our courtship ritual was to eat breakfast on Sunday morning at the Village Deli on Kirkwood Avenue and do the crossword puzzle in the local newspaper.

I would order biscuits and gravy.

Now, thirty years later, when I eat a serving of biscuits and gravy, even from a styrofoam plate, I reconnect to that spectacular feeling of falling in love with the woman I married.

If Village Deli were ever to close for good, my heart would break in two, and it would just lie there like the halves of a biscuit, served up on a diner plate. Not even an extra helping of sausage gravy could glue it back together.

Anyhow, please help spread the word about the need for staff at Village Deli.

Photos: Downtown Bloomington (Sept. 12, 2021)

4 thoughts on “Column | Because sometimes it takes a village: Local diner says, “We need your help!”

  1. What are all of these places paying for these employees they so desperately need? I don’t see anything on the linked site for Village Deli

  2. Hi Dave, as one of the original founders of the Village Deli (circa early 1980) I have been following the latest news with great interest. After we turned over the reins to Bob Costello in the spring of 1999 we were proud to see him grow the business to what it is today. Hope he can find some great employees like we had to keep the Deli alive and well. FYI I just pulled out an original menu and the price of Biscuits and Gravy was $1.30!

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