Just when wedding season was getting underway in 2020, the pandemic arrived and chucked a massive curveball to the hospitality industry.
Like so many businesses who were simply not allowed to operate, we had to think how we were going to survive without our main revenue streams – namely wedding and corporate catering – all of which was disappearing week by week, month by month as the pandemic gathered pace. Couples were losing confidence in their date being able to go ahead, and office staff were working from home.
The furlough scheme meant that we had a chance to keep hold of our brilliant and loyal team, which was our first and foremost priority.
We very quickly started our meal delivery service, which for many was a welcome change to takeaways or having to cook every night. We built up a whole new client base, and just as we offered the customer a solution, they kept us ticking over – for which we are hugely grateful.
It was during this time we were able to work with Chris Downton at Children With Cancer Fund, based in Eastbourne, who we already had close contact with. Usually Chris and the team organize events, and even holidays for the families, none of which was possible. The charity is big on providing random acts of kindness for their families, all of which have a child with cancer, so what better than providing them with home cooked family meals to save them all time and money. We offered a reduced price, and they gave us the volume we needed to keep going. “Teamwork” – as Chris would say!
There are many ways you can support this amazing charity, (see their website for details) one of which doesn’t even cost you a penny: next time you order from Amazon if you use this link, and CWCF will receive a donation!
As we went into summer we then started to offer our Afternoon Tea delivery service – and this was really successful as it was the perfect treat for people to enjoy at home or to gift to someone. We invested in an online ordering service, so folks from anywhere in the country could send a gift to loved ones in the local area. The following we have had has been incredible, and many continue to order again and again.
With restaurants closed for much of the time, we launched various celebration meals that folks could heat at home to mark a special occasion. These included our Valentine’s meal, Fine Dining at Home, Tapas at Home, Gourmet Curry Weekend, Halloween and of course the Christmas Dinner – which was really popular for those that suddenly found themselves unable to see family and were non-plussed at the idea of going to all that effort of cooking a turkey dinner for two! If enough demand we will be rolling this out again this Christmas.
Another boost during this period was our Christmas Hampers. Again, with folks having to shop online and browsing round the shops off-limits, we provided a solution for gifts to folks living in the area. We also picked up some large corporate bookings and will certainly be offering this service again this year.
Just 4 out of the 46 weddings we had booked for 2020 managed to get their big day, 2 before the lockdown and 2 after. Most postponed to 2021 but with restrictions being imposed yet again, many were not able to go ahead. By now some couples were on their 4th attempt to get married, and from May 2021 when things opened up again, some stuck to their dates and went ahead, despite much smaller numbers and various restrictions due to Covid. We were glad to get back into the swing of things and their events were very intimate and personal.
Now that restrictions are lifted we’re suddenly rushed off our feet trying to get through the many weddings that postponed from 2020 to this year and although it’s crazy we wouldn’t change it for anything. We’ve now done 20 weddings since May, and another 12 to go!
With the help of friends, family, business acquaintances, and customers past, present and future we made it through 2020 and we’re back in business! And most importantly, we still have the full team in tact.
We’d like to thank everyone for their support during what was a really dreadful time for businesses like ours in the hospitality industry. You kept our business afloat and our spirits high!
Jo, John & The Green Fig Team