Buy a bowl, get a roll.
Scott Akers, the owner of Z'Mariks Noodle Cafe in Mason City, is doing his best to make people smile in these uncertain times. Akers newest promotion is what he calls "buy a bowl, get a roll." If customers come in and order a regular-sized item, they get roll of toilet paper for free, signed with a message of thanks from Akers.
Akers, who has owned the restaurant since early December, was inspired to start the promotion this week, since the COVID-19 outbreak has made toilet paper hard to find at area stores. Z'Mariks get its shipments of toilet paper in large quantities, at 96 rolls to a case. After thinking up the promotion, Akers went to his local bank, and pitched the idea to his banker.
"There were five employees there, and they all burst into laughter," Akers said. "I was like, 'I think my instincts were right on that one."
Z'Mariks has not been immune to feeling the money pinch as of late. Since Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered the two-week closure of all restaurants and bars, with the exception of take-out or to-go orders, Akers said that his business has dropped around 60 percent. Rather than let this week's food shipment sit and spoil without customers eating in the dining room, Akers said he was going to try to make lemons out of lemonade.
"I just decided we're going to do it," Akers said. "It's just saying, we're here for you. I even ordered an extra case. It was just good to see people smile."
As of Thursday afternoon, Akers said he has given away around 70 rolls of toilet paper, and when his next shipment comes in, he should have around 270 rolls on hand. Akers is not selling the rolls, but is also not being picky about which customers qualify. If they seem excited about the promotion, he's likely to stick a roll in their to-go bag.
"We just want to help those that need it, and inspire a little hope, and a little fun." Akers said. "This whole time doesn't have to be a dreary, dreadful thing. Let's inspire each other."
Concerned about COVID-19?
Sign up now to get the most recent coronavirus headlines and other important local and national news sent to your email inbox daily.