The coronavirus pandemic has been tough on restaurants, but one woman decided to open her own anyway — on her porch, for a chipmunk.
Angela Hansberger is a food writer from Atlanta, but her typical work — writing about restaurants — has been put on hold during the pandemic.
“I was facing a lot of anxiety,” Hansberger recently told CBS. “I kind of hid it.”
But for several months now, her mini restaurant has given her joy and silliness, helping her cope with the challenging year.
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It all started in about mid-April when Hansberger’s uncle sent her a mini wooden picnic table he had made for squirrels, she explained in an article for Bon Appetit.
The table was supposed to be put in a tree, but Hansberger decided to put it on her front porch, with some walnuts on top, she said.
A chipmunk quickly ate up all the walnuts and came back for more the next day, she wrote.
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Eventually, Hansberger added other paraphernalia such as a checkered blue tablecloth and a vase, and did research to find out what exactly chipmunks eat aside from nuts.
Keeping within those bounds, Hansberger wrote that she tries to give her sole furry diner the restaurant experiences she herself has been missing.
Some of the meals she’s made include imitation sushi — with grains of rice, pieces of carrot, peach skins, seaweed, grated ginger and sassafras leaves — and imitation pizza — with almond flour crust, smashed raspberry and slivered almonds.
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The chipmunk started coming to Hansberger’s little picnic table every day and she named her tiny diner Thelonious Munk.
She told CBS that he seems to be enjoying her restaurant.
“The reviews have been great,” she told the television station. “One day he came up with this little tiny bundle – wadded up leaves – and put it on the table. So, I take it to mean he brought a tip.”
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Thelonious has also cheered Hansberger during a difficult time.
In her “Bon Appetit” article, she wrote that she is “often caught in a state of hopelessness and helplessness” because of the pandemic and the resulting uncertainty around the restaurant industry.
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“But every day, there is also Thelonious, a chipmunk who sits down to eat in a world without a doomful election and a deadly virus,” she wrote. “This is how I am coping, laying out a picnic, watching tiny hands hold my tiny food. It’s silly, yes, but sometimes silliness is needed.”
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