Staying in quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic, Detroit resident James Vreeland built a tiny restaurant for squirrels. Lockdown currently limits most restaurants to delivery and takeout only. However, the Maison de Noix or “Nut House” still offers sit-down service—for squirrels.
The miniature restaurant is located in Vreeland’s garden and features picnic benches, a coat rail, and a menu at the entrance. While the new restaurant caters primarily to squirrels, blue jays and other local wildlife are also frequent and welcome visitors.
The menu offers squirrel-favorites such as the Mixed Seed Trio and Stale Bread or Pizza Crust. It also serves Raw Peanuts on the Shell and the popular Counter Softened Apple.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, people around the world are quarantined in their homes. Some are struggling to fill the time and turning to new and quirky hobbies to occupy themselves and entertain others. On Instagram, Vreeland said that he “figured now was as good a time as any to get into the restaurant game.”
“Every morning we have a rush around 10:30 to 11,” Vreeland told Fox 12 Detroit. “With the shutdown, there’s not a lot of café options. We’re the only game in town.”
“The blue jays are terrible tippers and fairly messy diners,” he added. “They’ll swoop right into the middle of the action, steal peanuts and make a run for it.”
Vreeland explained that the squirrels and jays were already frequent visitors to the garden thanks to his wife, Amanda, who has been feeding the local wildlife for several years.
Quarantine in Miniature
Vreeland isn’t alone in re-creating food and culture in miniature for animals during the coronavirus quarantine. Teresa Michelle created an art gallery for her two-year-old adopted guinea pig Maisie called the “Piggenheim” to keep busy in self-isolation.
Vreeland says he built his squirrel restaurant to provide a “little bit of a break” from everything else. “The response from humans has been pretty great with people stopping all the time to take a photo or watch the frenzy,” added Vreeland.
Many people without access to green spaces are appreciative of live-streams and even Zoom calls to connect them with animals and the outdoors. Vreeland’s morning rush is live-streamed to Facebook and receives views from as far away as Hong Kong.