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Businesses everywhere, especially in the food industry, have had to make difficult changes and decisions in order to stay afloat amid COVID-19. Joel Catering, a local New Orleans catering company, knows the struggle all too well with the cancellations of events and weddings for the foreseeable future. Instead of calling it quits, Joel Dondis and his team have pivoted the business to deliver and serve comfort food across the city. Customers can order a variety of dishes online and have their meal delivered straight to their door the following day.
"We’re lucky that we're in the position to be able to switch to a home and business delivery model to keep our staff safe and employed, and we're grateful to be able to continue to stay in touch and interact with our customers and community this way," Sarah Hall, president of Joel Catering, told Adore.
Both new and returning customers have enjoyed the new venture and dishes including Duck & Greens Gumbo, Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad, and Chicken Pot Pie. There are also breakfast items, desserts, and dips to try (we're eyeing the Mushroom Truffle Dip). Building the menu has become a team effort, often stemming from a conversation about recent cravings. Other dishes are past requests from family and friends for holiday dinners, vacations, and more.
While weddings and other events are on hold, Joel Catering has filled the void by delivering meals to military doctors and nurses assisting with pandemic care. "We're used to doing these fun and beautiful events, so it’s been surreal to shift so dramatically. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to create a feeling of normalcy in such a strange time."
To ensure the safety of staff and customers, the company implemented new safety procedures. "Every time a team member comes to work, they head to a cleaning station to have their temperature taken before shift prep work begins. All staff will clean their shoes in a sanitizing bath, do a 30-second hand wash, apply hair coverings, wear a face masks, and don a fresh chef coat. Hands are washed again upon entry into the kitchen and at 30-minute intervals. We have limited staff to five in the kitchen at any given time to ensure proper distance between stations."
The safety doesn't stop there: "When we deliver to a customer’s door, we make sure we have minimal interaction. After shrink-wrapping and sanitizing your meal at our kitchen, our masked and gloved delivery service will bring your packaged food to your door, call to notify you of your delivery, and dispose of their point of contact on the removable handles."
Hall says that all full-time employees were able to be retained and are given as many hours as safely possible. Employees were given extra sick leave and PTO to aid in the transition, as well as more flexible hours as they balance their childcare responsibilities (many of the staff has children).
"We’re just so grateful that we're in the position to be able to continue contributing to the community. Nothing feels normal right now, so if we can make a family or essential staff a bit happier with a home cooked meal they don’t have to worry about, while also keeping our staff safe and protected, we feel like we've accomplished something good."
Joel Catering is open for delivery Monday through Saturday and is closed on Sundays. Order from their website by 8 p.m. every day and they will deliver the following day between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. (If you'd like a different delivery day, please specify in the notes at check out.) Follow along on Instagram and Facebook for more menu items, dinner specials, and food safety information. More details can be found here.