CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - When restaurants took a dive, so did their vendors.
Everybody is looking to create new revenue streams, new ways to get their brand out there and their products to people.
“I think everyone’s going to have to have a side hustle. If you’re a restaurant, you might want to think of some way of getting your brand on a shelf,” said Gary Thomas, owner/operator of Ohio City Pasta.
Thomas says they saw their wholesale business, which used to represent 70 percent of their business, go flat.
“Everything was so questionable and up in the air. I wanted to be nimble. Everything is unknown,” he said.
Their West Side Market stand is down 50 percent because of limit offerings, limited hours and limited access recently due to protests.
“I don’t know the play book on this. But I do know that we have to stay sharp and be ready to do whatever we need to do.”
Since people cooking at home more, their line of sauces, which you can find at independent markets and Heinen’s, are doing very well.
“Heinen’s bought more in that first three weeks than they did in the previous six months. They just bought another seven pallets of sauce, and that’s a nice shot,” Thomas said.
They were able to move some of their employees, who weren’t busy, over to the sauce side of the business.
“We needed it big time. It’s good for the cash flow,” Thomas said.
“I think you’re going to see more and more of that. People are going to look at retail options because it’s really hard to make a restaurant work at 50 percent capacity at best,” said Eric Diamond, of Central Kitchen Food Hub.
The shared kitchen and incubator is going to be working with local restaurants and chefs through their co-packaging operation to make other people’s products, like Superior Pho’s broth, and sell that into retail.
“As restaurants go away they still have some great products that people want and maybe they turn in to a retail model,” Diamond said.
Thomas said it’s not “if” but “when" something like this happens again everyone’s going to want this additional revenue stream to insulate them from the kind devastation many food businesses are currently suffering.