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How CustoMiiR Partner, Canlis, Pivoted to Support Their Community

In the wake of COVID-19, Seattle's fine dining restaurant Canlis said, "Fine dining is not what Seattle needs right now." Instead, they pivoted to safely create jobs for their employees while serving as much of the city as possible. In return, MiiR asked them, "How can we help?" The result is the banding together of two businesses who desire the same result: leaving our communities filled with encouragement and hope.

On March 16th, Canlis shut down their normal operations to open three food services: The Bagel Shed, Drive on Thru Burgers, and Family Meal, Delivered. MiiR played a small part by creating custom Camp Cups with The Bagel Shed logo, made for sale during Canlis’s late morning service to benefit nonprofit organization Big Table.

On March 20th (before Washington state’s “stay at home” order), we sat down with Mark Canlis, who owns and operates this incredible third generation family legacy with his brother, Brian, to hear how Canlis is reinventing itself during these difficult times while leaning more than ever into its mission.


Transcript as follows | from Friday, March 20th
Mark Canlis (Owner of Canlis):

The mission of our company is to inspire people to turn toward one another.

We don’t know how long we’ll be able to do this, or how long it will be wise to do it, or even safe to do it.

I have 115 employees. Right now 115 of them are working. They’re an all volunteer force, and not a single one of them stepped down. They all wanted to be here.

The most beloved piece of this is The Bagel Shed. It came from one of our expediters. The woman who runs our kitchen just said, “I make a mean bagel,” and we were like, “Cool, let’s do this.” She’s from the lower east side. We happen to have a bagel shed, we have a shipping container with a huge bread oven in it, and we just let her go.

When MiiR called and said, “Hey, we love what you guys are doing, is there any way we can help?” you know, the idea of having a Camp Cup was just rad. So we are selling them, trying to raise a little money for Big Table, an organization here that serves the needy in the restaurant industry - those who are falling through the cracks and not making it. Right now, that describes hundreds of thousands of workers across the United States, and so many of those are right here in Seattle.

So, we are feeding today, somewhere in the range of 1,500 folks, probably. And hopefully sending them away encouraged  not just fed, but full of hope also. I am hoping that we can be an example of just applying some of those crazy ideas and taking a chance on them to serve and inspire a community around us.

These are weird times: we’re sheltering in place, we’re quarantined, we’re effectively really turned away from one another as a community, and if there’s a way to reverse that, if there’s a way that we can be saying,

Yeah, this is a burger, but really, it’s a reminder that you’re not alone.

... there’s a reminder out there that says we’re way more alike than we know, or than we remember or than we dare to admit … if that’s what we’re here to do, then that’s not a story about a restaurant, I think that’s maybe a call to action for anybody.

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