The pandemic has left us all wondering, ‘What just happened? “
I never imagined that a global health crisis would change every aspect of my life, including our convenience food business that has served Tampa Bay for 17 years.
As we continue to recover and get back to normal, it’s more important than ever to remember small businesses and show our support for the community.
The national association of restaurateurs estimates that more than 110,000 restaurants have closed their doors temporarily or permanently by the end of 2020. Florida is officially reopened, but not all businesses have survived. According to Global State of Small Business Report, small business closure rates have fallen to 18% since the start of 2021. For the past year and a half, my husband Dan and I have made it our mission not to be part of these statistics.
Our business, Dinner finished!, was founded on the idea of creating healthy ready-to-cook dinners using fresh ingredients. The backbone of our original business model was in-person classes, and over the years we’ve added a Grab & Go suitcase with ready-to-cook-to-pick up items.
When the stay-at-home order was issued, we had to indefinitely put our cooking classes, a guest favorite, on hold.
Faced with the loss of income from our classes, we always considered ourselves lucky.
In 2017, we updated our website with Grab & Go online ordering, which has now allowed us to fully pivot to curbside pickup and delivery. To manage this change, we have rearranged the now empty cooking class space so that our team can work efficiently while being safely remotely.
This has allowed us to stay open, keep our team employed, and continue to serve the community.
As we continued to evolve, we relied heavily on social media to communicate quickly with customers. Facebook and Instagram have been (and still are) an important part of our success. We were able to post updates to let our customers know that we are still in business and operating safely.
We used direct messaging to immediately respond to customer questions and ran Facebook ads encouraging curb pickup and adherence to CDC safety guidelines to help maintain and grow our customer base.
These efforts have been instrumental in keeping our doors open over the past year. And while Florida is reopened, our local businesses are still very much in recovery mode. Now more than ever, local restaurants need our support, or they won’t survive.
I urge my fellow community members to consider eating local at least once a week.
Support your favorite family or local restaurant by sharing recommendations and posts about these businesses with your friends and family. Join a Facebook group of local foodies and share your positive experience with members. Write a positive review for your favorite restaurants and businesses.
It is more important than ever to support our local businesses and our neighbors so that we can all come out on the other side prosperous.
Audra Nasser and her husband Dan founded Dinner finished! which has been perfecting frozen ready meals since 2004.