By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Mar 18, 2020 at 3:10 PM

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"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." – Mister Rogers

The world is a crazy place right now. But, as individuals and businesses across the city and beyond work to support their communities during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, Don’s Diner & Cocktails, 1100 S. 1st St., has taken steps to do their part by reenvisioning the purpose for their neighborhood diner.

Over the past few days, the former diner has transitioned into Don’s Liquor & Grocery, a neighborhood stop where customers can pick up essential items like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, frozen pizza, spaghetti and other staples, along with liquor, beer and wine.

The new concept will open beginning on Thursday, March 19.

"We’re trying to do our part for a neighborhood that’s supported us since we opened," says Sean Wille of Stand. Eat. Drink. Hospitality, noting that the change in concept allows them to provide necessities and supplies for people in the area. "It’s also important as a local business to keep our doors open… not just for the community but for our employees, our team, moving forward, working and staying positive."

Provisions of all stripes

Of course, it wouldn’t be right if Don's didn’t add a menu of burgers, milkshakes and old fashioneds to the mix. So, along with the grocery store concept, Don’s Diner will be offering a take-out food menu (including options for kids).

The menu includes classic shakes, boozy shakes (spirits come in a mini sold alongside) and bottled ready-to-drink old fashioneds and sangria. There are also cocktail kits for making cocktails at home.

In the interest of safety and efficiency, Don’s will offer ready to go kits, including a Walker’s Point basket complete with six rolls of toilet paper, a bottle of hand sanitizer, a roll of paper towels, frozen pizza, pringles and a bottle of Jack Daniels.

There are also other neighborhood themed kits, including Bay View and the Third Ward, along with a Milwaukee kit featuring beer (of course).

Take-out and curbside pick-up will begin March 19. Meanwhile,  online grocery orders can be placed beginning Monday March 23.

Purchase a gift card for someone in need

For those who’d like to offer help to struggling industry folks or others in the community, gift cards in amounts starting at $10 will also be available. The cards can be used for groceries and supplies at Don’s.

For those who wish to simply support Don’s and the community in general, it’s also possible to purchase a gift card that will contribute to the distribution of supplies to local organizations, schools and community members in need.

For Now Don’s Grocery & Liquor will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. But things could change. So be sure to check the Don’s website for updates

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.