Lassen’s Tap Pushes Through Pandemic


Image by Ella Ermshler

This pandemic has affected many different people. It’s brought death, sadness, and hardship for many around the world. One group that has been drastically affected by the pandemic are small businesses.

We´re lucky to have a community that values the small businesses around us and has created a few opportunities for locals to support and uplift the businesses that have been hit hard during this time.

One Homewood restaurant that knows the ebbs and flows of COVID-19 all too well is Lassen’s Tap Bar and Grill.

The start of this town favorite goes all the way back to the 1920s and was started by the Lassens family. The building in Homewood that houses the restaurant was built in 1967 and has been passed down throughout the years from family member to family member before being sold to Tom Cutaras and Debby Hoffman who then sold it to its current owner, Chris Rickerman who will have run the business for 18 years this November.

“The business has always been a family establishment… something that’s for the town for the area,” said Rickerman.

Rickerman’s initial thought when the pandemic hit was, “Ok, it’s gonna be a couple 2-3 weeks lets just push through this.”

He allowed all employees who wanted to work through those uncertain weeks even though they were only doing to-go orders. Employees were allowed to come in whatever shifts they wanted and just help clean. They were also paid more during this time.

Unfortunately, as we know now these uncertain times of COVID-19 would last much longer than two to three weeks. Periods of quarantine continued to extend again and again, and small businesses and restaurants would have to adapt to the circumstances at hand.

The first move was getting a small business loan. However, the loan did little to really help. It covered rent and utilities.

Rickerman explained, “Unfortunately when that came about I was in the early-mid of the first round of it, and it was kind of a useless loan to be honest because we weren’t really up back and running at all, and it was designed to help you out while you were still open so you could pay the employees.¨

Following that by week four or five they were able to open again with outdoor dining and service with 10 tables outside. They follow the protocol as far as table spacing, temperature checks, asking symptoms questions when customers come in and have implemented extra people to ensure that they follow all protocol in the safest possible way.

Rickerman states, “We haven’t cut any corners on any of the rules. My customers’ safety and employees safety  comes first. There’s no getting around that” and that “A lot of customers who repeat business that come in here and tell us “we feel more comfortable here than any other place, so we come back here more often.”

When outdoor eating first became the sole option for Lassens their patio was under construction, and it had just begun a week and a half before the pandemic hit. Not having that as an option for some time Rickerman resorted to renting a 20×40 tent to create his outdoor eating space.

“The Mayor of the village was really welcoming to the idea and pretty much said instantly when the state would allow outdoor dining that we could use our parking lot and whatever we need to help stay afloat,” Rickerman said. 

After some time of renting the tents, Rickerman would end up purchasing his own tent once coming to the realization that they would be doing the outdoor eating option all the way until October or November.

“That’s been the whole theme of everything it’s constantly pivoting and shifting gears because new rules and regulations come out all the time, and we just gotta roll with it and do our best to enforce everything as much as possible,” Rickerman said.

Fortunately, another option for the restaurant would come about with the opening of the new patio with TVs, fans, and heating. 

 “It’s been difficult at times due to the fact that weather plays a huge role,” Rickerman said. ¨When it gets down to colder temps in the wintertime we still should be able to be open for some outdoor dining, even though all be 5 tables it will be something.¨

Rickerman was adamant about creating a chain of support during this time. Businesses need all the support they can get to support themselves and their employees. By supporting them we continue to build the vibrancy of the community.

“Every day is evolving and changing. It’s just trying to keep everybody happy, “Rickerman said. “I just really want the community to understand how difficult it is for all restaurants.”

Be sure to support Lassen’s whether it be outdoor dining or take out and look into the other small businesses of the H-F Community.