Restaurant opens amid COVID-19 so employees will be paid

The Sands Restaurant had been closed since 2016
Posted at 2:47 PM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-22 20:58:02-04

SILVER LAKE, Mich.  — A West Michigan couple decided to open the restaurant they recently purchased amid the coronavirus pandemic to make sure their employees would be receiving paychecks.

Sands Restaurant, located on West Hazel Road near Silver Lake, opened about 40 years ago, but its doors have been closed to the public since 2016.

Theresa Irving worked at Sands restaurant washing dishes when she was just 15 years old, "and I remember saying to myself, if I ever got a chance to run this restaurant, this is some of the things I would do," she told FOX 17 Wednesday.

Theresa would soon leave her job at the restaurant to join the Air Force, but she wouldn't be gone forever.

When she left the service she returned to the area and took a management job at the restaurant. "I knew it was going up for sale and I was really interested in it at that time," she told FOX 17.

She and her husband made the leap and recently purchased the restaurant with the intent of opening up with the nearby dunes, which typically open up at the start of April.

Of course, the coronavirus put a hold on the dunes opening up this year. But Theresa and her husband decided that they would still move forward with their plans.

"We hired full-time and part-time employees and made commitments to people. And they took it, they were really excited about the amazing environment, the community and how our actual restaurant was going to be run,” Irving said. “One person actually gave his two weeks notice and bought a house to live up in Mears."

So they opened up the Sands, serving customers via their pick up window at the front of the restaurant.

They currently have 10 employees, 2 of them veterans as well.

Irving's insurance agent with Michigan Farm Bureau Insurance let them know about their We're In This Together initiative that helps connect local restaurants with farmers and other community members.

“They’re a new restaurant, opening in one of the hardest times that you could possibly be opening a restaurant and Farm Bureau was able to, through local agents, choose different restaurants in each area, and Sands restaurant will be getting over $4,000 from Farm Bureau insurance to cover the meals that are going out to all of our farm bureau members," agent Kaleb Klotz told FOX 17 Wednesday.

"Every person that carries auto insurance with Farm Bureau is a farm bureau member," Klotz said.

The restaurant will not have to pay back any of the $4,000. Irving says it should help them stay open through the pandemic-induced shutdown.

She says Sands plans to have about 65 employees by the end of the summer.

“Working and having this experience with people that were coming from all over the world and watching people that were local working hard has really made me who I was," Irving said. "And so I really want to give back to the community and it's about sharing that with my employees and changing lives."

Sands is planning several events in the coming months to help spark community interaction. You can visit their Facebook for more information.


  • Mother's Day Meal
  • Asparagus Cooking Contest


  • Cigar Wrapping
  • Father's Day Meal


  • 4th of July


  • Heroes on the Dunes
  • Block Party


  • Apple BBQ Contest
  • Harry Potter Evening