“Pivot” has become the new buzzword related to businesses making adjustments or outright reinventing themselves after the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The restaurant and hospitality trade is one of the industries that has received the biggest beating by the coronavirus. Most eateries have struggled to make changes other than simply adding takeout and delivery services as a way to survive.
Nicholas Sharp, owner of Threefold Cafe in Coral Gables and three other locations, also added those fringe services to their “menu.” But he did not stop there.
“We pivoted into affordable family meals, and we turned our serving staff into delivery drivers. And we pivoted into groceries,” Sharp said.
Did you catch that last line? Groceries.
Sharp, who has owned Threefold Cafe for six years, concocted the idea of selling groceries online as another source of revenue for the business. The added service provided a win-win for Sharp and local food purveyors who had an oversupply of products during the shutdown -- and for shoppers who were weary of stepping into crowded grocery stores in the spring.
“We were able to get access to very cheap clearance food, so we were able to buy food from our normal distributors, put a margin on it and sell it at a competitive price, ” Sharp said.
But Sharp’s efforts to keep as many of his workers employed, to support local farmers and his own business don’t end there. He also partnered with about a dozen charitable organizations, which made Threefold Cafe’s impact in the community…threefold.
“We became a donated food venue. I think at one time we had 125 pallets of donated food given by small charities," Sharp said.
Photos: Coral Gables Restaurant Reinvents Itself Unlike Most Eateries in Order to Survive
During the shutdown, they raised a bit of money and Threefold Cafe created a food bank. Sharp also says he assembled one of his restaurants with a team of chefs and gave out prepared meals to people in need. They put out 10,000 meals in about six weeks, according to the restaurant owner.
Threefold Cafe’s community outreach has gone even further after they partnered with a non-profit organization that asked them to provide boxes of groceries for people in Coconut Grove. Nicholas and his team are taking it up a notch by preparing 110 boxes per week of not-your-ordinary groceries.
“A good part of the boxes, we’re making soup from scratch, we’re making pasta sauce from scratch, we’re making stews from scratch, we’re churning our own creams and making butter from scratch and so, it’s not more expensive but it’s significantly better quality,” Sharp said.
In spite of the creative ways the businessman has implemented in order to build revenue, he says they’re down to half the sales they generated last year during the same time and have lost about 20 of their 40-person staff.
Sharp says he received a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, which allowed him to cover rent and staffing costs for a while, but he reveals that money has been completely spent by now and he is unsure about what to do next.
“It’s nowhere near or even remotely close to being a sustainable business model for our restaurant, so you just hit a point where you don’t know what else you can do,” Sharp admitted.
Sharp says the business has been approved for an Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) issued by the Small Business Administration. He has not made up his mind regarding whether to accept the $150,000 they are offering because he does not know when Threefold Cafe will be profitable enough for him to pay it back.