From spring weddings to graduation parties and corporate events, April is typically among the most profitable months for Pflugerville-based Bowties 2 Blue Jeans Catering Co., Executive Chef Vikki Bowen said.
But this year, Bowen has not catered a single event in over a month.
The evening of March 12, following a catering gig at a Round Rock Chamber lunch, as reports of the novel coronavirus filtered into Central Texas, Bowen said her inbox was flooded with cancellation emails.
“Overnight, business basically shut down,” Bowen said. “We’re corporate caterers, wedding caterers. That’s what we do. All of the sudden, every single event was canceled.”
She said she was faced with a choice: temporarily close down or pivot the business model to try to stay afloat.
“I just watched one email after another come in with cancellation after cancellation,” Bowen said. “I sat there asking myself: 'How do I pay the rent? How do I pay employees?' It just happened so quickly.”
Spurred by a desire to continue to support her employees and to provide fresh, hot meals to families staying at home during these extraordinary times, Bowen revamped her approach to serving food.
With coronavirus-related restrictions in place, instead of catering to large events, Bowties 2 Blue Jeans is currently offering family meal kits with entrees, sides, salads and cookies for a minimum of four people. Recent meal packages include cheddar meatloaf with mashed potatoes, lasagna with bread sticks, pork tenderloin with green beans and a barbecue dinner plate.
In the first three weeks of piloting this new model, Bowen said she has sold meal packages to over 100 families.
“It’s nowhere near the revenue stream that we’re used to, but hopefully we’ll be able to pay the rent at the end of the month,” Bowen said. “And thankfully, we’ve been able to keep our employees employed.”
Home delivery is available within a 15-mile radius of Bowties 2 Blue Jeans’ corporate kitchen in Pflugerville. This area includes parts of Round Rock, Pflugerville, Hutto, Georgetown, Leander, Cedar Park and Austin, Bowen said.
Bowen said she continues to tweak her offerings based on demand and need within the community. This week, she added an option to purchase a 10-pound box of fruit or vegetables with a hot meal delivery. Customers can also order baked goods such as banana bread, muffins, scones and crème brulee trench toast.
One element that sets Bowties 2 Blue Jeans apart from other family meal delivery services is that the food is delivered hot and ready to serve, Bowen said.
“We’re still that all-scratch, small-batch kitchen,” she said. “These are hot, fresh meals coming to your door, ready to serve.”
Pflugerville-based Bowties 2 Blue Jeans Catering Co. offering meal delivery in light of canceled catering events due to coronavirus
A customer favorite is the Creme Brulee French Toast, Executive Chef Vikki Bowen said. (Courtesy Bowties 2 Blue Jeans Catering Co.)