Amid the COVID-19 shutdown of dine-in services, the owners and managers of restaurants are finding ways to help others in need while eliminating food waste due to the abrupt closure to the public.

Troy Reding of Rock Elm Tavern, with locations in Plymouth and Maple Grove, was among those restaurant owners who laid off staff members last week, suspending dine-in services and reverting to only take-out while following guidelines of the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.

“If people don’t use us, I don’t know how long we can sustain this,” he said, adding “the best thing people can do is order take-out food from any of the independent restaurants if they want to see them survive.”

As a longtime supporter and volunteer at the Plymouth Treehouse, Reding reached out to the nonprofit, which works to end hopelessness among teens across the state and country, and offered to provide fully cooked meals, as well as some groceries, to the youth and families served by the Plymouth site.

“We jumped on board right away,” said Heather Zimmer, area director for the Plymouth Treehouse. “Troy is one of the most compassionate men I know and he’s willing to always give his last to these teens and their families.”

With the help of staff members and volunteer drivers from Plymouth Covenant Church, Rock Elm was able to deliver meals along with bags of produce and dairy products.

On March 18, Reding and his small crew cooked the turkey dinners for 16 families and 65 people.

The next day, the Rock Elm crew did the same at the Maple Grove location for youth and their families served by New Hope and Brooklyn Center Treehouse sites.

“Everyone was incredibly grateful to not have to worry about cooking a nice meal or shopping for groceries,” Zimmer said.

A fundraising effort is underway to raise money to continue making weekly meals for Treehouse families, as well as others in need.

“I have employees that aren’t working right now that believe in giving back and will come in a volunteer,” Reding said, noting he plans to continue serving at-risk youth and their families for as long as funds allow.

For more information, contact Reding at 612-245-0632.

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Kristen Miller is the community editor for the Sun Sailor, covering the communities of Plymouth, Hopkins and Minnetonka. Email story ideas to

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