This article originally appeared on April 5, 2020
One man from the Detroit area put his quarantine creativity to great use. James Vreeland used his newfound free time to, as he put it on Instagram, "get into the restaurant game."
He did that, of course, by building an entire tiny restaurant in his yard specifically for squirrels. It's hilarious and also weirdly very impressive.
It's an open-air concept with communal picnic-style tables and natural grass floors, which really brings a sense of connection to the earth and the source of the squirrel food. It's a brilliant design.
It's called Maison de Noix, or "The Nut House" in English, and it's the newest, hottest neighborhood spot that all the squirrels are chattering about. If they didn't have to social distance, there would be lines out on the sidewalk every day to get a table. It's very exclusive.
It has a tiny coat rack with wire hangers for squirrel jackets and everything! And even though the restaurant is aimed at its squirrel patrons, it's open to all sorts of creatures. James said that the blue jays in the area are also loving the new place.
Not only did James build an innovative restaurant, but his menu is like nothing I've ever seen. It's so diverse, and yet, so streamlined. And don't worry; he's printed out the menu and stationed it at the front of the restaurant for those who might be interested.
Let's take a closer look, shall we?
So simple, yet so sophisticated, you know? A mixed seed trio! How intriguing. And you can't go wrong with stale bread or pizza crust. I appreciate that the chef leads with what he has on hand and fresh (I mean, stale) that day, instead of shoehorning out-of-season ingredients into a year-round menu.
Raw peanuts on the shell are a known squirrel favorite, and counter-softened apples, well, that's an application you don't see very often, mainly because they're so hard to get just right. But I have faith in the kitchen staff of Maison de Noix.
For a brand new restaurant that opened during a global pandemic, Maison de Noix is doing very well. It helps when you are the only restaurant that caters to squirrels in the whole United States. They really cornered the market.
He has even started doing Facebook Live videos that are just a live stream of the restaurant. You can tune in each day to see the animals stop by. At one point during the last live stream, James commented, "Sorry for the shaky cam — there is a bluejay sitting on the camera."
A time-lapse of the "brunch rush" can be found on his Instagram, and it's just delightful. This whole venture is just entirely lovely, and I thank James for his efforts. I hope things like squirrel restaurants don't go away once the pandemic ends. We need them now, and we'll need them then.
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