Sanaa Abourezk would not simply promote meals at her downtown Sioux Falls restaurant.
She sells an expertise.
Sanaa’s Gourmand is likely one of the few locations on the town promoting genuine Mediterranean meals. Prospects come to attempt one thing new and experiment, she stated.
However individuals stopped coming to her restaurant as soon as the coronavirus pandemic hit South Dakota. Her eating room sat empty.
She supplied perform and signed up with supply providers like seemingly each different restaurant did in a single day. Nevertheless it wasn’t sufficient, and she or he was fearful her enterprise would not survive.
Because the 12 months closes, although, she’s discovered methods to maintain her enterprise afloat — utilizing social media extra, packaging her sauces for particular person sale and making ready take-and-bake meals. She’s completed all the things she will be able to consider to maintain bringing prospects to her enterprise — and it is working, she stated.
“Take-and-bake is my lifesaver. It is my lifeline proper now,” Sanaa stated. “Our lunch site visitors is struggling, however the take-and-bake is making me sleep at night time.”
Her new merchandise deliver her restaurant and cooking to prospects in an intimate setting — filling their very own kitchens with the smells of her restaurant. They usually’re extra distinctive dishes than what could be supplied for lunch within the restaurant, persevering with to supply prospects one thing they can not discover anyplace else.
Now, she thinks she’ll be OK.
‘Making this 12 months not solely survivable, however profitable’
Sanaa is not the one Sioux Falls enterprise proprietor who has discovered methods to regulate to the pandemic.
Melissa Johnson, proprietor of Oh My Cupcakes, bought flour, milk and eggs when the gadgets have been briefly provide at grocery shops firstly of the pandemic. She added vegetable and fruit bundles when grocery shops have been briefly provide of these as effectively, persevering with to change her enterprise to regulate to the wants of her purchasers and the bounds of the pandemic.
Meals vans are providing supply. Eating places supply meals to make at house and put in heaters on their patios. Retailers promote gadgets on Fb Dwell, supply personal dressing periods and consults, and schedule reserved shopping times for customers.
Doctor visits are virtual. Staff work at home. Convention calls are in and convention rooms are out.
Sioux Falls companies have taken almost each alternative to innovate, get artistic and meet their prospects the place they really feel most snug. It is what the pandemic compelled them to do, and it is what is going to preserve their companies going within the new 12 months.
“That is the important thing to creating this 12 months not solely survivable however profitable is to proceed to innovate and be artistic,” Johnson stated. “It is a completely different world than it was a 12 months in the past. I do not assume we will function out of that very same playbook.”
‘Inertia goes to kill your corporation’
Innovation, to Sioux Falls entrepreneur Matt Paulson, is doing one thing new that creates enterprise worth — enhancing life, simplifying or convincing a buyer to pay extra for the service.
Innovation is required to maintain companies alive, survive and thrive, Paulson stated.
“If you happen to aren’t altering and enhancing your corporation over time, another person will enhance theirs,” Paulson stated. “With out continuously searching for higher and new methods to do issues, inertia goes to kill your corporation.”
Not solely have been individuals lacking Abourezk’s restaurant, however her prospects have been now not interacting together with her regularly. She could not chat with them on the money register or their tables.
So she met them over social media. She introduced her persona to them — modeling meals as jewellery in Instagram portraits, providing cooking classes on Fb, educating a stomach dancing class and extra. It grabbed individuals’s consideration and reminded them that she — and her enterprise — have been nonetheless there.
“I need individuals to chortle this 12 months, and it is one thing individuals stay up for. It makes me near them, and so they really feel like they’re a part of my restaurant,” she stated.
And that has impacted gross sales. With an elevated following on-line, she’s seen extra individuals order from her shortly after she posts a photograph, or she’ll hear about how her dancing movies satisfied a brand new buyer to check out her meals.
For Johnson, she has been staying in tune with what her prospects and group want at any given second. Whether or not it is flour and fruit, or dropping a supply price as a result of her prospects are hesitant to come back within the retailer.
Oh My Cupcakes depends closely on enterprise purchasers utilizing the enterprise’ catering service. However enterprise conferences and conferences and vacation events are gone. As an alternative, she discovered a approach to supply a product protected to be used at house — a reminiscence equipment, full with pre-made cookies, fondant items, frosting tubs, edible glitter and extra.
A number of of her enterprise purchasers have purchased the kits and are sending them to staff, she stated.
“We actually do depend on the corporate gifting and firm Christmas events to complete out the fourth quarter robust,” Johnson stated. “To have a superb fourth quarter, we wanted to provide you with artistic concepts to nonetheless serve our clientele in ways in which made sense for this 12 months.”
She additionally closed the Oh My Cupcakes kiosk within the mall. With a drop in site visitors and a threat of publicity to staff who ran the kiosk, it made extra sense to focus efforts elsewhere.
Enterprise improvements and creativity additionally builds a stronger metropolis, stated Jeff Griffin, CEO of Sioux Falls Space Chamber of Commerce.
“Concepts construct upon concepts. If you create a group with sturdy concepts, that turns into a way more enjoyable enviornment wherein to play,” Griffin stated. “That creates sufficient work for companies, banks, insurance coverage, building — success builds upon success. Modern concepts create new merchandise creates new jobs.”
The story continues beneath.
‘Throw me anyplace now. I will survive.’
Paulson believes many companies will return to operations as regular after the pandemic. However some modifications will stick round, and a few companies can be compelled to proceed altering what they provide prospects.
“To get individuals out, that you must do one thing in addition to have bar meals — after COVID, you are going to have to make an expertise for individuals,” Paulson stated. “What’s that further factor you are able to do that makes going to your restaurant or enterprise value it?”
Johnson plans to maintain her reminiscence kits year-round and alter designs for holidays. Abourezk plans to start out a free on-line cooking class in 2021 on social media and proceed posting photographs of her meals portraits — solely additional cementing her affect on-line.
She additionally hopes to develop her enterprise to packaged meals to promote in grocery shops, now that Abourezk’s seen a requirement for her cooking exterior her restaurant. Sauces she began promoting earlier this 12 months are widespread as effectively, and she or he plans to package deal and promote these individually.
Earlier than the pandemic, these have been simply desires. Now, they’re obtainable.
“No means I might have completed all of this with out the pandemic,” Sanaa stated. “Each morning I get up and consider how proud I’m of myself. I am hustling, I nonetheless have a restaurant, all of my staff are nonetheless there. I believe it is simply made me stronger and extra assured.”
Typically, challenges push us to be higher, she stated.
“Throw me anyplace now,” Sanaa stated. “I will survive.”