The coronavirus pandemic has shuttered many small businesses, but in a rare positive tale, one merchant is making a come back in a slightly different form.
The Milk Pail Market began in the early '70s as a drive-thru dairy. During its 45 years in business, the Mountain View family business morphed from drive-thru dairy to a walk-in specialty food shop. In June of 2019, after years of toughing it out on a rapidly changing San Antonio Road, the market closed its doors.
Then COVID-19 came. Since the shelter-in-place orders, the Milk Pail Market has opened back up — in pop-up form. It’s finding new life by going back to its roots as a drive-thru, from a warehouse around the corner from its San Antonio Road location. Customers order ahead, and can drive-thru and pick up a produce bag or an essential box of groceries (curated by theme) and a few add-ons like frozen croissants.
The Milk Pail’s rebirth goes beyond its convenient drive-thru architecture. The neighborhood landmark leveraged its long ties with a community food service providers to fix a food distribution system that hasn’t worked during the shutdown.
“We can work with the vendors so that they're not stuck with product that they otherwise would have to throw away due to expiration,” said Kai Rasmussen, 26-year-old daughter of Milk Pail owner Steve Rasmussen. “Being part of the ecosystem is really important — to keep things moving.”