After Du Nord Craft Spirits closed its cocktail room on March 16 due to COVID-19, the Minneapolis distillery started producing massive batches of hand sanitizer to donate. Though owner Chris Montana was devastated by losing his business’ primary source of revenue, making the switch from sippables to sanitizer felt like the right thing to do. “If this is going to be the end, then how do we go down swinging?” he said.
When a man from Loaves & Fishes, the state’s largest free meal program, stopped by Du Nord to pick up a batch of free sanitizer, he mentioned that one of their longtime meal sites was Holy Rosary Church, just up the road.
In an instant, Montana flashed back to his childhood. When he was 8 years old, in 1991, his family had moved to Minnesota from Indiana, “dirt poor.” Food stamps, food shelves, and soup kitchens helped the family get by. And one of those soup kitchens where young Montana had eaten dinner was Holy Rosary, the big church by one of his family’s first apartments.
Montana shared the coincidence on Facebook. “Now in the midst of a pandemic nearly 30 years later, I was donating hand sanitizer to the organization that fed me as a child,” he wrote. “But for the donations of time and money that provided for those meals, I would have gone to bed hungry those nights in the winter of ’91.”
Despite the hardship faced by his business, Montana said he has been humbled by the generosity he has seen and feels hopeful that the country will get to the other side of this better than it was before. “Finally there is something happening in this country, as bad as it may be, that can actually unite folks,” he said.
Find hand sanitizer made by Du Nord and other local distilleries at allhandsmn.org.