Owner of Good Word Brewing in Duluth thinks about what a family wants to eat

This takeout order from Good Word, plated at home, includes a carne asada taco, pollo verde tamale, Mexican rice and beans. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND

This takeout order from Good Word, plated at home, includes a carne asada taco, pollo verde tamale, Mexican rice and beans. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND

Good Word Brewing and Public House is a small brewpub in Duluth opened in 2017 by two former Brick Store Pub employees, Todd DiMatteo and Ryan Skinner.

As the pandemic hit in March, they decided to close the restaurant and open a soup kitchen to provide free meals to the community.

But, after some soul-searching, the partners reopened for pickup service on April 1, while also continuing to help the community by providing food for Meals by Grace, a program available to children in Forsyth County and their families.

This takeout serving, featuring Mexican rice and beans, and pollo verde tamale, came from Good Word. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND

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The original menu leaned toward Southern and Latin influences, with the likes of Puerto Rican fried chicken, and a braised pork-filled empanada.

There were more traditional pub grub offerings, too, such as a stacked burger, pulled pork sandwich, and hot wings, plus boiled peanuts, house-cured bacon and sous vide steaks to sear at home.

However, comfort meals are the heart of the menu. Favorites include lasagna Bolognese and picadillo meatloaf. On Sundays, you’ll find the fried chicken special with sides.

“We used to change our menu every six to eight weeks, but that’s all out the window,” DiMatteo said during a recent phone call. “We’re changing the menu every week or two weeks now. We only serve a couple of hot items, just to limit the people on the line. We’re trying to think about what a family would want to eat, and so we did this lasagna, and I’m telling you, it’s amazing. There are five of us at my house, including my brother-in-law, and we had leftovers.”

For Cinco de Mayo, Good Word offered a special Mexican takeout menu. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND

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DiMatteo said it sometimes has been a struggle to figure out exactly what people want from week to week, but regular customers have remained exceedingly loyal.

“I don’t call them customers, I call them fans,” he said. “They believe in everything that we do, from the beer, to the food, to the service. The people who love us and live here come all the time, so part of the reason for changing the menu is to keep them enticed.”

On the brewery side, pickup sales of canned beer have been brisk, DeMatteo noted. "We're selling a load of packaged beer, and we do canned crowlers, too," he said. "Our Never Sleep IPA usually sells out in about a week."

As far as reopening for dining, DiMatteo doesn’t think that’s going to happen any time soon.

“There is no good way out of this right now,” he said. “Even if we did open, we wouldn’t feel good about it. There are no actual guidelines. The CDC stuff is generic. We need the health department to come and help us. But, you basically can’t enjoy a restaurant with a mask and gloves on, right? That’s the bottom line. I have a hard time imagining how it would work safely or financially. So, we’re going we’re keep doing what we’re doing.”

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Menu: several items from regular menu, including cheeseburger with house chips, pulled pork sandwich with chips and coleslaw, hot wings with Buffalo sauce, celery and ranch dressing; comfort meals for four, ready to heat and serve at home, including lasagna ($55) with Bolognese, mozzarella, ricotta and Parmesan, salad and garlic rolls; picadillo meatloaf ($45) with ground beef and veal, olives, golden raisin tomato glaze and red bliss mashed potatoes

What's new: special occasion takeout meals, such as for Cinco de Mayo and Mother's Day

Alcohol: beer, pre-made cocktails and other beverages available for takeout

What I ordered: most of the items listed on the Cinco de Mayo menu last week, including four tacos (fried catfish, spicy mushroom, carne asada, chorizo and pepper); pollo verde tamales; Mexican rice and refried beans; housemade tortilla chips and salsa. It was all good, but we especially liked the chips and salsa, the tamales, and the carne asada tacos. Our order was well-prepped for takeout and reheating, with tacos wrapped in foil and other items in aluminum pans and plastic containers. We had enough leftovers for lunch the next day. I also grabbed a four-pack of Never Sleep IPA ($13.99) in 16-ounce cans. It's bright and hoppy, with grapefruit notes, and proved refreshing with the heat and spice in Mexican food.

Service options: order and pay online, or over the phone, with a credit card; pickup at patio entrance

Safety protocols: all workers handling food observing CDC guidelines and wearing masks and gloves

Address, phone: 3085 Main St., Duluth, 404-973-2077

Hours: beer pickup: 12-8 p.m.; food pickup: 4-8 p.m., Wednesdays-Sundays

Website: takeout.goodwordbrewing.com