We spoke with Kate Hole from Country City Catering about how the business pivoted during lockdown and what might be in store for the future.
At the beginning of August we hosted our free webinar called The Future of Food at Work. During the virtual event we spoke with Kate Hole from Country City Catering as part of a panel discussion on how the hospitality sector has adapted during lockdown. Here's a snippet of our Q&A with Kate:
Tell us a little bit about Country City Catering.
My business partner Lewis and I decided to start our business back in September 2017. We’re both trained chefs, so we just wanted to do something for ourselves. The branding behind our company is all about country-inspired, seasonal, and sustainable produce.
We primarily started off as an event catering company but we quickly fell into drop-off catering, which is how we started working with City Pantry.
How has lockdown affected your business?
It’s definitely been a roller coaster. Overnight all of our events were cancelled - even ones on the day. We were left with companies’ food that was paid for that day and, of course, we donated it where we could.
And then the first thing we jumped on was meals for the NHS. That was the first thing that hit and we thought it was fantastic. It was supporting the hospitals, but it was also supporting caterers like us to be able to do meals. It was really good but full-on - we were doing hundreds of meals daily.
That did start to die off, so we thought “what can we do next?”. We considered that events were off the cards for however long and instead we really expanded the drop-off side of our business, which we were already setup to do.
At first, we marketed to individuals at home - they were ordering fresh produce from us and ready-meals instead of having to go out to the shops. Again, that was really full-on for another month but then when everything started to relax and people were getting bored at home they started going back to the shops.
That’s when we were contacted by City Pantry to do Pantry Packages and that opened up our product to the corporate market. Through June and July, we saw a lot of summer parties, and companies wanted something big. So we did luxury, one-off hampers and those have been doing really well. We’ve done them for 10 people up to 300!
We are starting to see a few events come back, but at the moment we’re really concentrating on these corporate home deliveries.
Have you noticed any changes since lockdown was eased?
We’re starting to see some people go back to the office in very small numbers. There’s a few film shoots we’re starting to do catering for too.
From a delivery perspective what’s changed is the roads have become a lot busier!
I think August is going to be a lot quieter with the corporate orders, because it always is - that’s when companies encourage employees to take holidays. What used to keep us going in August was festivals, so with those cancelled we’re just going to take this month to develop everything, in particular individually boxed meals because that’s what everybody will be wanting when they go back to work.
What are your predictions for the future? Do you think the hospitality industry will bounce back or do you think this is a gradual climb?
I think that the corporate side of catering has already bounced back in a way. There are still the same people who want to be fed, they still want all those perks, it’s just about businesses coming up with the ideas to sell it. We just have to keep coming up with ideas and find ways of delivering food to staff safely.
If you'd like to watch the full panel discussion with Country City Catering and the rest of our webinar guest speakers, please sign up to receive the webinar link and presentation slide downloads by clicking the button below.
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