Eastern Iowa man donates stimulus check to feed frontline workers, support Cedar Rapids restaurant
On Wednesday afternoon, staffers at The Map Room prepared for what they hoped would be a busy night of calls from customers.
The restaurant has been back open for two weeks after being completely closed for more than a month.
“Every day, your heart pounded, like, 'what do we do?'" Christina Springman, who owns the downtown restaurant with her husband, Mitch, said. "This is our livelihood. This is our everything. Are we gonna come back? I don’t know."
Though all Iowa restaurants can now serve dine-in customers if they adhere to a 50%-capacity restriction, The Map Room is opting to continue its carry-out-only service for now and plans to reopen for dine-in service at a later date.
At least one customer is excited to have his burgers back: Ben Wiemerslage, a State Farm agent in Hiawatha.
“Their burgers are just unbelievable,” Wiemerslage said. “I mean, you just can’t go wrong.”
Recently, Wiemerslage decided he wanted to do right in a tough time for many.
“I wanted to find a way to do good with the stimulus check that I received,” Wiemerslage said.
So with that money, Wiemerslage is offering to cover $20 on the bill for any frontline worker who places a to-go order at The Map Room. Those workers — whom Wiemerslage describes as “anybody who’s working with individuals in the community, so whether that’s fire, police, EMT, healthcare, social work, really any of those folks” — just need to mention the offer when they order and then show their work ID or badge when they pick up their food.
Wiemerslage said it’s just a simple way to say thanks.
“The least that we can do here is just buy you a burger,” Wiemerslage said.
But it means so much more to The Map Room, especially after its seven weeks closed.
“What Ben gave us was two days or a whole day in sales,” Springman said. “That’s so much to us.”
Springman said they’re glad to count Wiemerslage not just as a customer, but as a friend.
“Ben and I went to school together, and Ben played hockey with my husband growing up, so we both knew him separately, and so we’ve known Ben for a long time,” Springman said. “So to have somebody in your life that just thinks of you, to look out for you and your business when he knows you’re struggling, it’s everything, honestly.”
While about 10 people have taken Wiemerslage up on his offer, according to Map Room staff, Springman said most of the money is still available for future customers.