CHICAGO (CBS) — From 10 orders to more than 100 – Passover and Easter meals for one caterer are way up this year.
As CBS 2’s Tara Molina reported Thursday night, those orders are keeping that local business afloat.
The holiday orders are a welcomed increase for J&L Catering, with many of the customers behind the increase being part of vulnerable populations that want to avoid the grocery store right now.
Chef and caterer Kevin Kelly was happy to be in his kitchen chopping up veggies Thursday, despite an empty event calendar. Because of the coronavirus shutdown, there are no parties, meetings or weddings.
Instead, there a major increase in Passover and Easter to-go orders are keeping his knife to the cutting board.
“We’ve got a nice herb-roasted salmon for some folks, scalloped potatoes; others chose ham,” Kelly said.
With people celebrating differently this year, Kelly’s co-owner, Ted Grady, said orders are way up.
They use no-contact delivery, as many do now.
“We’ve delivered to their doorsteps, texted them, and then we leave,” Grady said. “So it’s a very safe exchange.”
Grady said J&L typically does 10 to 15 Passover dinners for clients. This year, they did more than 230 Passover meals.
Kelly said there were more than 200 Easter orders – up more than 100%.
Not only is the uptick keeping their ovens hot – all of this week’s orders have them bringing some of their staff back to work after COVID-19 hit their entire industry hard.
“It would be great if we could bring everyone,” Kelly said. “We can’t, but we are able to give a few shifts here and there.”
Jodi Wolf’s family ordered for Passover, and they’ll have an Easter order this weekend.
“It took away the extra stress of it,” Wolf said.
Like others who turned to the caterer, she wanted to avoid stores.
“It was great,” Wolf said. “I may never make brisket again.”
As for what’s next for the longtime local business?
Kelly said they want to keep things moving in the kitchen, so they’ll keep the to-go Tupperware handy.
“If this is something that we can help people and help our employees? I think it’s a win, win.” Kelly said.
They already have plans in place for Mother’s Day and Cinco de Mayo meals, and possibly more weekly dinners to keep things going for their staff.