Press Release: In a time of crisis, Businesses and Community Rally Together in Cook County, MN

Press Release: In a time of crisis, Businesses and Community Rally Together in Cook County, MN


In Cook County, Minnesota, Businesses and Community Rally Together Amidst Crisis

Despite COVID-19 shutdowns and a devastating fire, local business owners and residents throughout Cook County look to each other for inspiration, creativity and strength.

April 17, 2020 – Cook County, Minn. In the wake of a fire that devastated three prominent businesses in Grand Marais, the communities in Cook County are coming together, staying positive and finding creative ways to keep the area’s tourism industry engaged during the state-mandated COVID-19 shutdown.      

“We are staying strong,” said Linda Jurek, Visit Cook County Executive Director. “Our communities are mourning the loss of the Crooked Spoon Cafe, Picnic & Pine, and White Pine North, but we will weather this storm together. Above all, we’re grateful that nobody was hurt, that our volunteer firefighters were able to contain the fire, and that we have the fortitude to rebuild.”

While the ashes were still smoldering, two local business leaders started a GoFundMe account to support the businesses who lost their livelihood in the fire. In the first 24 hours, over $25,000 had been raised. Donations are still being welcomed and appreciated. For more information, visit the GoFundMe page.

Known as a destination for artists, creatives and adventurers alike, spring is a welcoming and joyful time in Minnesota’s arrowhead region. This year, however, the awakening of spring is quieter, acknowledged by residents as they pull together to support their local business community in the wake of Monday’s fire in Grand Marais and the absence of the area’s usual booming population of visitors from near and far.

The city’s firefighters are all volunteers. It took volunteers from four different fire departments to combat the fire. Many left their day jobs to step in and fight the fire, only to return later that evening when gusting winds caused the fire to reignite. They returned to work the next morning, too, because that’s the mentality in Cook County. You do your part for your community and your family, and then you do some more. 

Without springtime visitors, the communities of Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder, Grand Marais, Grand Portage and the Gunflint Trail are oddly quiet, but certainly not dormant. Residents are practicing social distancing while remaining friendly and lending a helping hand to those in need. Many are volunteering their newfound extra time and doing what they can to stay engaged and support their community. 

“It’s been amazing to see everyone come together this spring,” continued Jurek. “In a small and tight-knit region like Cook County, survival depends on sticking together. We’re adjusting the way we do things to adapt to this new normal, and we anxiously await the day we can welcome visitors once again.”

In the meantime, Cook County is staying innovative to keep residents safe, sustain local businesses and engage visitors from afar.

North House Folk School – Crafting in Place

During this time of uncertainty, craft can be calming, inspiring, and sustaining. North House Folk School is offering online craft experiences and connections from afar. From wool mending to sailing, woodworking to starting seedlings, these fun and informative craft video tutorials were designed to inspire creativity and self-expression while we shelter in place. Sign up for the North House Folk School e-Newsletter and follow on Instagram and Facebook for one-of-a-kind tutorials from artisans

Grocery Pickup and Delivery

Nobody could have foreseen that a regular trip to the grocery store could get so complicated, but that hasn’t slowed down the residents of Cook County. Grocery stores throughout the region quickly adapted to accept phone orders and offer curbside pickup and delivery options, and volunteers have stepped up to help meet increasing demand. The primary goal? Maintaining food access for all in Cook County. Whole Foods Coop, Johnson’s Foods and Gene’s Foods in Grand Marais are leveraging volunteers for deliveries, and many other markets throughout the region have found success with curbside pickup. David Jansen, a volunteer, has developed a website that shares photos of grocery store shelves to help residents shop virtually.

Wunderbar Eatery and Glampground – Free Lunch for All

Chef Chris Callender and his team at Wunderbar Eatery and Glampground are offering free lunch takeaway for any who need it during this time. Local grocery stores and restaurants have donated many ingredients to help support these delicious and comforting meals available to Cook County residents who may be out of work or school during the shutdown.

Visit Cook County – Stay Connected with Cook County

During this time of social distancing and isolation, Visit Cook County had turned to technology to help keep connections to Cook County alive. With virtual meetings replacing face-to-face interactions, custom virtual backgrounds for Zoom, Skype, or other platforms bring a smile to everyone’s face. Background images for each Cook County community are available for free download on the Visit Cook County blog

Visit Cook County has also asked visitors to join together and share stories of their favorite times in Cook County on social media. Stay connected through the power of story; please share on InstagramTwitter or Facebook by using #donorthmn 


About Visit Cook County 

Visit Cook County encompasses the northeastern Minnesota communities of Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage, commonly referred to as “the Arrowhead” and the “North Shore of Lake Superior”.  Grand Marais, Minn., has earned several national accolades — most recently it was named USA Today’s Best Midwestern Small Town, Outside Magazine’s The 16 Best Places to Live in the U.S. 2016, and Budget Travel’s 2015 Coolest Small Town in America. Rekindle your sense of adventure by exploring the Superior National Forest or paddling through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Discover what makes the communities of Cook County, Minn. “Naturally Unforgettable.” Connect on social media using #donorthmn, Twitter @CookCoVisitorsFacebook, or Instagram @donorthmn. Learn more at


Linda Jurek | Visit Cook County

Phone#: 218.387.2788 ext. 101



Kjersti Vick | Visit Cook County

Phone#: 218.387.2788 ext. 104



Picnic & Pine, Crooked Spoon and White Pine North all destroyed in the 4/13/20 fire in Grand Marais, MN

Picnic & Pine, Crooked Spoon and White Pine North all destroyed in the 4/13/20 fire in Grand Marais, MN