Catering companies struggling during pandemic get creative for holidays

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It's no secret that businesses in the hospitality sector have struggled throughout the coronavirus crisis -- But as we head into the holiday season, some are getting creative with their offerings and say they won't go down without a fight.

"You have to just be ready to change and pivot," said Nicole Black, co-owner of Burke and Black, a San Francisco-based catering and special events company. "We're all connected, so if small restaurants or small businesses fail, then we're not really left with much."

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As the pandemic began to unfold, orders into Burke's company dried up overnight, and with celebratory events brought to a complete halt, there was no longer demand for the beautiful grazing tables for which she was known. But after taking a few months off to focus on family, Burke is building her business ahead of the holidays by offering individual and group-size boxes filled with artisan fruit, nuts, cheeses and charcuterie.

"Virtual galas, virtual meetings, virtual happy hours, we'll take special orders and deliver," said Burke. "Now it's a lot of volume, but we still want to keep that attention to detail."

Burke's commitment has been noticeable to many, including Jason Limberg, owner of the WineKitchen restaurant on Divisadero Street, where she operates a part of her business.

"It's a good reminder that even in hard times, even if business isn't going that great, to do your best and make the product or the dish that you're proud of," said Limberg.

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The office party is changing since employees won't be able to gather together. However, companies and event planners have some ideas to reward employees for enduring hardship during the pandemic.

In the South Bay, ABC7 News caught up with Sandra Dailey, owner of Sandi's Catering, who is widely well-known for her Southern-style soul food and peach cobbler cups at Levi's Stadium. But with no in-person attendance at 49ers games for the time being, Dailey is now focusing on her meal delivery service, which features some of her favorite recipes. She's also working on a special Thanksgiving menu.

"It's about helping people and families... it's a feeling that I get when I see people enjoying my food," said Dailey. "Not having the interfacing with folks, it's been tough."

But as difficult as things may seem, Dailey says it's important to focus on the good.

"Once you start understanding that gift of giving, you'll start understanding the gift to help you through this terrible time, because it will you help you learn about yourself," said Dailey.

These business owners hope to a Build a Better Bay Area one meal at a time.

"We're still going and moving forward," said Burke. "I'm really proud of myself for not giving up."

Take a look at all of ABC7's Building a Better Bay Area stories and videos here.
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