Caterers, restaurant owners hope Valentines' Day will provide a financial boost

Posted February 10, 2021 6:00 a.m. EST
Updated February 10, 2021 6:45 a.m. EST

— After almost a year of dwindling business in the catering and hospitality industry, many have gone out of business. Some still hold out hope for better days ahead.

The website for Triangle Catering and Hospitality Group features pre-pandemic pictures of the way things used to be. They were days where no one wore masks and no one was concerned about social distancing.

The historic Cotton Room in Durham, a popular wedding venue, became a favorite place for creating memories with friends and family. Then came COVID-19.

"It has wrecked the hospitality world," said Michelle Aldred, co-owner of Triangle Catering along with husband and chef Dodd Aldred.

They have been in the business for more than 30 years. Now, instead of preparing large buffets to feed a big crowd, they prepare smaller meals for drive-up customers. Take-out orders and deliveries have become their bread and butter.

However, it’s not a long term solution. "Business meetings aren’t happening. Events, receptions, weddings are being postponed since last March," said Michelle Aldred.

One way she and her husband have dealt with the situation is partnering with "Sugar Euphoria" owner Randi Smith to draw more attention to both businesses.

Smith said, "We are still doing small cakes for micro-weddings, elopements, mini-ceremonies. You know, all the things that people are using now to describe these smaller weddings."

Last March, she found it difficult to juggle all the rescheduling, contract issues, deposits and final payments from customers who had to change their plans due to the pandemic.

Now, both Smith and the Aldreds, along with other restaurants and catering companies, look to Valentine's Day as a way to survive through spring.

Smith said, "I think this Valentine's Day, people have been in the house for so long, it’s just not the same. People are itching to get out."

Aldred says the industry needs a shot in the arm to bring back business. "We are just hopeful that with a vaccine coming out it will make a difference."

She says the federal Paycheck Protection Program helped them and other hospitality businesses stay afloat over the past year.

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