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Local caterers pivot to offering family style meals during the pandemic.
As the coronavirus crept into Raleigh and North Carolina earlier this year, people and companies started abandoning plans for parties, weddings, conferences and all kinds of other large-scale events. The hospitality industry was hit hard and local caterers found themselves in a bind: What would they do if they didn’t have any events left to cater for? Many of Raleigh’s independently owned caterers spun the fatigue folks were feeling from constantly cooking at home to their advantage, using their resources and know-how to pivot to offering family style meals people could easily order, pick up, or have delivered—contact free—and have on hand to feed everyone for at least a day or two. So if you’re tired of cooking at home, but not quite ready to go out to eat a restaurant yet, try a family style meal from one of these local catering companies.
Donovan’s Dish, perhaps most famous for its outstanding shrimp and grits, typically specializes in weddings, corporate events, birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers and holiday parties. But nearly five years ago, the company launched a dish-to-door meal service and pivoted to include contactless delivery at the start of the pandemic (yes, the shrimp and grits are available to order to your home!). With all events cancelled, owner Jill Donovan says dish-to-door took priority over catering and the company gave the service its own platform, added more meal options and offered next-day delivery seven days a week—customers get a text message when their frozen heat-and-eat meals are dropped off at their doors. Donovan says profits from dish-to-door don’t make up for the loss of revenue from events but keeps her employees paid and her customers seem to love the service. “We were fortunate to have this system already in place,” Donovan adds. “All of us have had to pivot. It means we’re survivors.”
Order online for contact-free delivery or pick up at 800 W. Williams Street in Apex. dishtodoor.com
Feed A Family For…
Under $20 – Texas-style chili with ground chuck, onion, jalapeños, kidney beans, ancho chili and tomato, 1 quart, $15
Under $30 – Big John’s three-cheese mac & cheese topped with buttered croutons, serves 4, $24
Under $50 – Hibachi chicken and steak served with fried rice, vegetables, yum yum sauce and ginger sauce, serves 4-6, $44
Catering Works’ Fig’s Market
Catering Works, whose award-winning food and drinks are just as popular as their fairy-tale weddings, corporate events and special occasion coordinating services, pivoted to a family style meal service right at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hoping to maintain some income, the company branded its new service as Fig’s Market, a concept piloted a few years prior that the company found easy to return to. “It’s been quite terrifying, to say the least,” says Jill Santa-Lucia, Catering Works’ president and culinary director. “But we’re not giving up.”
While most people just don’t think of going to a caterer for dinner, says Santa-Lucia, Catering Works’ chef-curated heat-and-eat meals are a delicious example of why you should. The menu includes a variety of signature entrees—including fried chicken, steak and crab cakes—that come with a choice of two sides and add-ons, such as rolls, bread and wine, and arrive as a single serving or family pack of four servings. Instructions on how to reheat or finish the meal are included with each item and Fig’s Market also features a la carte items such as desserts, deli sandwiches, salads, flatbread pizza and casseroles. Order home delivery or get curbside pickup at 2319 Laurelbrook Street between 1-3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. figsmarket.com
Feed A Family For…
Under $30 – Frozen chicken pot pie, serves 4 to 6, $29
Under $60 – A four-serving portion of boursin chicken with roasted balsamic tomatoes plus a choice of side and a choice of salad, $59
Under $80 – Salmon glazed with raspberry tamarind and sweet potato salsa dinner served with roasted haricot verts and quinoa pilaf, serves 4, $79
When you think of Ladyfingers, the first thing that comes to mind for many Raleighites are the to-die-for ham rolls, which have become famous around town and across the country thanks to the company shipping nationwide. While Ladyfingers’ ham rolls haven’t been gracing many weddings, corporate events, anniversaries and cocktail soirees recently, Ladyfingers’ owner Tudi Jackson tried a few different things at the beginning of the pandemic to try to maintain business, including drive-through-Fridays, barbecue meal kits, taco Tuesdays and back-to-school lunches. Then, Jackson launched a weekly food program in which customers sign up for Ladyfingers’ newsletter and get a rundown of each week’s meal offerings sent to their inboxes. There’s keto-friendly Thursdays, deli salad Wednesdays, pre-marinated kabobs to grill at home and, now that football season has started, sandwiches and snacks fit for the big game. “I’m certainly not happy that there’s no catering but it has opened doors to new ideas that I’ve enjoyed,” Jackson says.
Call Ladyfingers at (919) 828-2270 to order home delivery or get curbside pickup at 627 East Whitaker Mill Road. ladyfingersofraleigh.com
Feed A Family For…*
Under $20 – Smoked baby back ribs, $14
Under $40 – Cashew chicken with broccoli, bell peppers and onions in a sesame ginger sauce served over cauliflower fried rice, serves 4, $34.75
Under $50 – Mix-and-match kabobs (1 each of chicken, Hawaiian beef, shrimp, vegetable) plus a large side of mac and cheese, feeds 4 to 5, $44
Coleen Speaks, whose resume includes stints under renowned New Orleans chef Emeril Lagasse and Ashley Christensen at Enoteca Vin, launched her PoshNosh Catering company here in Raleigh in 2007 with the goal of working with local farms, fishmongers and purveyors to curate seasonal menus for her clients. Two weeks before North Carolina’s pandemic shutdown was announced, Speaks realized she had to pivot her services in order to maintain income while weddings and other events were being cancelled. Speaks says providing a family style meal service was a natural way to keep doing business.
PoshNosh’s six-week meal plans—featuring a different entree, salad, side dish and dessert each week for $55, plus tax—started by mainly offering comfort food but has evolved to more health-conscious meals as “we’ve all experienced a little bit of expanded waistlines,” Speaks says jokingly. She says she wants to create meals people normally wouldn’t prepare at home and keeps it interesting with seasonal ingredients. Speaks’ customers have enjoyed the family style meals so much, she’s planning to continue them, even once the pandemic is in the rearview. “I can’t imagine crawling under a rock and waiting for this to pass,” Speaks says. “We decided to really invest in this.”
Email email@example.com to order, or visit the website. poshnoshraleigh.com/meal-service
Feed A Family For…*
$55 – Soy-glazed chicken thighs with cucumber salad, fried rice and spiced apple cake; Bacon-wrapped smoked meatloaf with mashed potatoes, braised greens and banana pudding; Chicken parmesan with linguine, Caesar salad, garlic focaccia and lemon-glazed olive oil cake
*These are examples of past meals and may not be available as of press time
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