The year of Covid, 2020, wreaked havoc on small businesses/organizations. “Weathering the Storm” will profile local businesses in an attempt to celebrate survival and the promise of calmer seas on the horizon. We ask about the enormous challenges they faced, how businesses adapted, what the future holds, and ultimately how, as a community, we may help them rise above the tides.
Eat Well Kitchen owner Susan Bergeron and her staff
When Eat Well Kitchen opened in June of 2015, it delivered on its promise to provide customers with fresh, delicious food on the go.
Less than a year after moving into a new, larger space at 12 Atlantic Avenue, COVID unleashed its wrath, presenting a host of unimaginable predicaments. Owner Susan Bergeron recalls the very early days when adapting to the new statewide COVID rules and regulations set forth tremendous obstacles.
Bergeron needed to quickly find a safe way to consistently provide for her customers. The adoption of a system including curbside pickup and delivery became a necessity if EWK was to survive.
“Our customers were not allowed to enter the store so we had to get creative with curbside pickup and delivery. I do not use a 3rd party delivery service, so that was a challenge,” said Bergeron.
When in early April of 2020 supplies of fresh, organic produce became scarce, Bergeron worked to procure an organic veggie/produce co-op. She and other co-op members bought shares of fresh, organic produce, all of which were equally divided into portions. The co-op delivered inventory twice per week, which was an absolute necessity in the height of the pandemic.
“Stores were out of stock, it was a definite need,” recalls Bergeron. The co-op turned out to be a “life raft for EWK.”
The unwavering support of the community and loyal customers provided additional lifelines.
“We were able to employ staff and still keep the lights on. I’m not sure that would have been the story had we not had the support of customers that wanted the contactless deliveries every week,” said Bergeron.
As for the future, Bergeron recognizes the need to constantly evolve with the uncertainty of the future.
“I think COVID has changed a lot for people and how they procure their needs/wants. And, their food needs have changed over the last year,” says Bergeron. The future of depends upon the ability to stay relevant, which Bergeron sees as not only important for their business but for her customers.
“Remember, these are your neighbors trying to pay rent, mortgage or utilities and stay afloat. If we don’t support small business, there will be no shops or restaurants left…only vacant storefronts and no one wants that,” she said.
EWK serves an assortment of fresh juices, smoothies, sandwiches, soups, protein bites—all intended to nourish the soul. It’s open Monday – Saturday 8 a.m. -4 p.m.
Check them out at eatwellkitchenmhd.com
Eat Well Kitchen staff filling co-op orders