SUTTONS BAY — Kids can still tell Santa Claus their wish lists this year, but his visit may look different because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brunch with Santa is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon Dec. 12.
Families are invited to the Inn at Black Star Farms for a drive-through visit with Santa and to pick up their preordered breakfast.
Black Star Farms Managing Owner Sherri Campbell Fenton said this event is only a few years old, so they tried to modify rather than cancel it.
“It started as a way to welcome in our community,” Campbell Fenton said. “I’d like this tradition to continue.”
Parents pull through the circular drive at the Inn. Kids can tell Santa what they want for Christmas while staff members load the brunch into the car. Santa is stationed on the porch.
“Kids can pop down their windows so they don’t have to get out of the car,” Campbell Fenton said. “We are taking many precautions and offering a socially-distanced, contactless event.”
The brunch, Campbell Fenton said, is a multigenerational event where families dine together.
This can continue with the takeout format, as people can order meals to drop off for their elderly family members or others who are isolating.
Plus, people without kids or with older kids can order the holiday meal without seeing Santa.
“Maybe we can reach more people,” she said. “We’re looking forward to spreading cheer in a lot of different kitchens this year.”
Dorothy DeBlasio, director of event and culinary operations, said the brunch is “children inspired” and serves four people.
The menu is created by the culinary team at Hearth and Vine Cafe, which is closed for the season but provides fare for special events.
Many local ingredients are featured, like produce from Lakeview Hill Farm in Traverse City.
DeBlasio said the chefs aimed to make each dish holiday themed.
For example, the Yuletide casserole may include red and green peppers, if available.
“They’ll try to make it as Christmassy as possible,” she said.
In the past, DeBlasio said their sit-down brunches featured a pancake station, where guests could make their own.
The takeout meal includes separately packaged toppings like sprinkles and candy as well as Michigan maple syrup.
“People can take them home and make it what they want it to be,” DeBlasio said. “They can have fun building them at their home.”
The menu is cooked and ready to eat upon pickup, but DeBlasio said each order contains reheating instructions for folks who have longer drives home.
Sparkling juice for the kids and wines for the adults are available for additional fees.
The Inn at Black Star Farms also plans other meals for pickup, including a Christmas Dinner.
The in-person New Year’s Eve dinner is still scheduled, but DeBlasio said they are prepared to move it to takeout if necessary. The Dec. 25 meal is geared toward families, while the Dec. 31 dinner is more for couples.
“We’re trying to accommodate everyone,” DeBlasio said. “We want to make it so people don’t have to cook on their favorite holiday if they don’t want to.”
Curbside services and shipping of retail items continue while the winery’s tasting room is closed.