My lockdown survival story: Jo’s Kitchen
“Adapt or die”. Whether or not Charles Darwin said those exact words, this was certainly the situation for many hospitality businesses in March 2020 when full lockdown was announced in the UK.
While many were simply forced to wait out the storm, those that could adapt found innovative ways to reach their customers and shed a little light into dull lockdown life. Several businesses switched to new business models including some of those I have written about before: Mint Fig in Musselburgh started local deliveries of grazing boxes and afternoon teas, while Lewis & Clarke Artisan Kitchen in Gifford delivered batches of their brownies, cinnamon buns and scones.
Another lockdown survivor, whose lockdown business proved very popular with East Lothian locals, was Jo Lawrence, former restaurateur and event caterer in Haddington. I caught up with Jo about how she reacted to the COVID-19 situation and the amazing response she received from customers.
What did you do before lockdown?
Pre lockdown we were catering many weddings and events, as well as private dinners and film shoots. We were runners up in the Wedding Vows awards in 2019 and were a thriving successful business.
How did things change for you in March 2020? How did the business change as a result?
In March 2020 work ground to a halt and we had to pay back many deposits, as every single job we had cancelled. We had no streams of income left at all. I quickly started a new delivery service of home cooked meals and themed ‘Friday Feasts’ which was successful and has enabled my business to survive where many others have sadly had to close. Caterers were excluded from all hospitality grants.
How have things changed/improved since the lifting of restrictions?
The wedding industry is still in turmoil as restrictions were lifted too late for many and until recently dancing was still not allowed, leaving some not keen to go ahead this summer. While we are working again, we will be lucky to make much of a profit this year from weddings (our main income stream). Also, as no private parties have been allowed, we are still having to be creative. Home deliveries continue to some extent, and we have had a fair bit of film work recently. We have also just catered for the TV and film crew at The Scottish Open at Archerfield.
What does the future hold for Jo's Kitchen?
The future luckily is very bright as we have a diary packed for the next two years with weddings and lots of clients keen to have parties and celebrations now they are allowed. We are also doing a pop-up at Cherish Vintage Tearoom in Gullane in November and will do more pop-ups as soon as possible.
Follow me on Instagram: @Feast_Lothian