The COVID-19 pandemic has been a disaster for some businesses, but it has been a source of invention for others. Pawhuska’s Buffalo Joe’s Restaurant, 403 E. Main, is one of those that is doing everything it can to both serve its community and survive.


On Friday, April 3, the business announced on its Facebook page that it would establish a “pop-up shop” for Pawhuska, where customers could stock up on essential items.


“It is a stressful time for all of us. To ease some of the stress, we will be stocking up on essential items and offering them to you,” the restaurant said in a Facebook post. “This puts our employees back to work and allows you to stock up on things without leaving town or your vehicle, and with minimal contact.”


The next week, the first list of items and prices went up on Buffalo Joe’s Facebook page and sales began. Items on the list ranged from flour and sugar to meat and produce, and toilet paper.


“It’s going very well. People are stocking up, and while doing so getting some great produce,” Destiny McDaniel, manager of Buffalo Joe’s, told the Journal-Capital in an interview last week via Facebook Messenger. She said there were usually 20-30 bulk orders a day, unless items were selling out. Buffalo Joe’s has been getting two supply shipments a week for the bulk sales, she said.


Contrary to what might be the conventional wisdom — that the toilet paper would just immediately vanish — McDaniel said the items that seem quickest to sell out are fruits and vegetables, as well as flour and sugar; and Buffalo Joe’s has been hearing from customers about how pleased they are that this service is being offered.


“We don’t have limits on things people can buy, so people don’t have to get out as much,” McDaniel said. “And we keep very stocked on toilet paper, so we don’t run out.”


Customers can pay over the phone, or when they arrive to pick up their orders. They can use cards or cash, McDaniel said. Staffers at Buffalo Joe’s wear masks when interacting with customers, and they change gloves for each customer, she said.


The bulk sales operation is just part of what Buffalo Joe’s is currently offering. It also delivers freshly prepared meals to customers on a curbside basis.


“They can do both at the same time,” McDaniel said, explaining you can order a meal for right now and bulk supplies for use later in other food preparation.


“It is sustainable for the time being,” McDaniel said. “We aren’t making much of a profit from the groceries. We just want people to be able to get what they need while staying home as much as possible.”


She explained that she has a grandmother who is high risk, but couldn’t buy as much as she needed at the store.


“That’s when we realized a lot of people probably have this issue,” McDaniel said.


The hours for the bulk sales operation are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, but McDaniel said she’s willing to meet people after hours or during the weekends, if they call ahead. Customers can call Buffalo Joe’s at 918-287-2358, or send messages using Facebook, she said.