Ladybird Diner ( @ladybirddiner ) Twitter Profile


Ladybird Diner

Creative comfort in vibrant downtown Lawrence, KS. Do save room for pie!

Downtown Lawrence Kansas

Joined on 12 August, 2014

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Crunch the numbers and crunch them again. Gosh it’s hard to model a business with so many unknown variables. What will August look like? And November? The dream is now conjecture and patching a path with whatever is handy.

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From a car outside someone hollers to me to keep on keeping on and that means something very different now than Before. I hear: move forward with a plan that may or may not be a disaster. The dream leaves room for that too.

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My grandparents had a colony of cranky bees in the siding of their farmhouse that they counted as insulation. Sometimes what stings us will also keep us warm. Stir something of that old lesson into the model. Plan another month of sack lunches & grocery boxes with real butter.

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The dream was never static. Fires, floods in the basement, never not something to fix. A viral pandemic was unexpected, but the dream leaves room for the unforeseen, demands that we remember how to steer. Pivot. Rework the dream, adjust the model.

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Shout out to @MisterCaine for everything he’s done to keep a vital business operational through the stay-home order, and for taking community safety so seriously that we often see him masked behind the wheel of the Ravenmobile with the windows up! 👏

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We will think this through until we are out of ideas and we’ll settle on what best benefits staff and guests, but the notion of us returning to business as usual, even a modified usual, is beyond reach right now.

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However we adapt to the new normal when it’s time, the model will include Jerry and his tuneful tributes after lunch.

There are some things I refuse to give up.

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Space age plexiglass dining pods with aerosol hoses plumbed in to automatically disinfect every surface with a fog of sanitizer between guests. Extravagant hands-free delivery systems, conveyer belts parading lines of chicken fried steaks and pancakes like luggage.

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Human contact reduced to the barest minimum with ridiculous upgrades if those things could exist at all. Ours is an industry of single digit profit margins when we’re running at full capacity, but even if such contraptions were available and we could afford them...

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We’re not exactly in the same boat. Nothing about policing other folks’ bodies and hygiene feels right, so who gets to come in and who is left out?

I’m not giving up, mind you.

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Contact is not required, of course, but the sterility and loss of closeness feels unthinkably disconnective. Who even are we without those things? I keep hearing we’re all in this together but lots of our regulars these days don’t have consistent access to water and soap.

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...why would we want to? Our work is centered in hugs and high fives, heads bent together laughing, peek-a-booing the babies and pushing in chairs for the grannies, millions of moments spent in closeness with one another beneath the overstory of a vibrant community exchange.

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The thought of modifying the diner with the sorts of measures required to mitigate the spread of a viral pandemic are silly to think about but I entertain the fantasies for a while. Servers and cooks in masks and plastic face shields.

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In truth, things are foggy right now and I can’t see a clear way back to what we were… before. Before, Ladybird was a swirling patchwork of color and movement, worn in the places it’s been loved the most. We’ve never pretended to be polished or any sort of a tight ship.

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We weren’t sure which he’d prefer because he doesn’t always sing in the same key as the harp, so she got both. Friday he sang me a few verses of I Can See Clearly, swaying and smiling at me from the sunny sidewalk just beyond the patio rail.

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Sometimes it’s Woody Guthrie or Stevie Wonder, his payment for lunch and quite possibly the sweetest tip we’ve ever received. Scratchy, slightly off key, it’s what he has. When he told us that his old one didn’t play all the notes, Erin bought him 2 new harmonicas, a G and a C.

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Every day after lunch Jerry stands just outside the door, plays his harmonica and sings us a few bars of a song. He tries to keep his selections in line with the feels of the day. When we served creole stew he sang On The Bayou.

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Thoughts from a tiny diner on moving forward, what we can learn to live with, and what we can't, a longish thread:

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Quoted @larryvillelife

45 seconds of the Surprise birthday parade for Meg of @ladybirddiner. Thanks for always being awesome, Meg, and now more than ever!

It was a lovely day to joyfully weep on the street in front of all my favorite people.

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As folks return to work and this need declines we will reassess our plan for summer. For now, forward is a murky notion that there will be better answers at a later date and utter clarity that we are doing the right thing for now.

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