Desperate times call for desperate measures.

But in this case, desperate times call for meal delivery and curbside pickups.

With the ongoing pandemic we are all currently facing, restaurants and places of gathering have closed due to the fear of spreading COVID-19. The hospitality industry has taken a nose dive in sales, with many smaller establishments struggling to survive. Some have been forced to temporarily close — or even close for good.

This absolutely breaks my heart, especially for those with small businesses here in town. When it comes to restaurants and dining, Bakersfield is a city of opportunity for families with a dream. Along with many chain restaurants, there are almost triple the amount that are family owned and operated. During this time of pandemonium, these families that feed our community are not going down without a fight! And I am here for it!

With “Dining with Dre,” I try to support local with my features as much as I can. Though I can’t actually go “dine” anywhere and film an episode for you all, I am making it my duty to order from establishments that define the food scene of Bakersfield to help keep them afloat during this time of uncertainty. Many restaurants in town are offering “family meals” for pick up or delivery. This movement was put in place almost immediately by the most iconic restaurant in Bakersfield and many followed suit.

Luigi’s set the tone for our hospitality community and became a fast favorite. I have only dined at Luigi’s once out of residential obligation, to be frank. It was good. I honestly didn’t think of it as anything special. Service was exceptional and the food was good. But nothing to write home about. But it was special enough as a historic and well-loved location that Luigi’s was one of the first on my list to support during this time.

Once this pandemic hit, Luigi’s started offering family meals for curbside pickup. Upon picking up my order, I was met with a line of cars that wrapped around 19th and Baker streets. Once the box of food was in my car, the amazing aroma of ribs and red sauce overpowered my Febreze car stick and immediately made my stomach rumble. Considering I ordered something almost identical to this family meal during my first visit, I was surprised to be met with a much different and considerably more appetizing aroma.

Luigi’s offered a feast of ribs, pasta, salad and rolls with butter. After serving my husband and myself, I couldn’t wait to dig in. After my first bite of the ribs and pasta, I realized Luigi’s came to play! Familiar flavors hit my taste buds, yet there was a follow-through in that hit that made it a home run. The ribs were tangy and sweet and the pasta’s red sauce was earthy with just the right amount of sweet that is the umami of Italian tastes.

Luigi’s was fighting and fighting hard. They are a historic Bakersfield landmark that is now setting a different tone of what it means to fight for your life during hardship. I like this new fight. Luigi’s is what Bakersfield stands for in a hospitality establishment. Family, community, small-town sweetness, rich in culture and provisions. This fight is beautiful to see and I’m ecstatic that many other restaurants are riding the same train.

This is a food fight at its finest that translates to what our city ultimately is. Strong.

Bakersfield restaurants: I hope to be back to enjoying your menus on your dining floor and filming your food to share with the community soon. But in the meantime, I will support you through ordering in and picking up where and when I can. I miss you and commend you for all you are doing. Once this is all over, I know you will be back with a vengeance. I will be there to cheer you on!

Stay safe, stay home and stay fed Bakersfield! This too shall pass. 

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