“What ya got cookin’”?
That’s what many of us asked during the COVID-19 quarantine when comfort foods remained at the center of many conversations. However, those were not the words many restaurants heard over the last few months. Now that the state has authorized business re-openings, many struggling small businesses are looking for innovative ways to make their businesses successful again.
When COVID-19 hit, Quiana “Que” Broden, owner of the vegan restaurant The Kitchen at 6529 Woodward Ave. and the blog Cooking with Que, had to adapt to a new reality. Her business, nearly 100 percent dependent on face-to-face personal interactions with customers had to pivot – quickly.
Broden adjusted. Not only was she able to keep many of her loyal customers, her innovative approach helped her gain new customers too.
Broden will share her experiences and lessons learned at the Inter-Faith Small Business Alliance’s BIG Series webinar Recovery Tools of Small Businesses July 20 at 11:00 a.m.
You can sign up for it here.
The pandemic did not cause Broden to lose faith in her cause, simply to adapt.
One way she kept going was through online ZOOM classes, which allowed her to expand her audience and provide additional ways to participate. Mindful of the importance of maintaining customer connections, she kept her audience small enough to maintain an intimate atmosphere.
Although the customer experience was different, many reported that they still felt like it was “personal.”
In some ways, Broden found that the interactive sessions created a better environment to teach in.
“People learn best in the comfort of their homes,” she says.
Cooking fresh is a part of Broden’s mantra and she found new ways to incorporate her commitment to fresh foods throughout the quarantine. To make sure her students were able to access them, she started carrying and delivering fresh produce to registrants and those in need.
The new service was a life saver to many facing food access issues.
To Broden, fate brought her to the food pantry, while faith carried her forward.
Before the pandemic began, Broden was raising money to teach local kids about healthy cooking. When that no longer became an option, she found a new use for the dollars.
Many of the kids who would have taken the class are taking advantage of the pantry.
Broden will share these types of pivots and the importance of community connections during the webinar’s panel discussion, which include nuggets about her restaurant start, as well as her marketing and communication strategies.
One of the areas she’ll focus on is authenticity, which she feels is critical to small business success.
Customers remain loyal to businesses they know, trust and have a personal connection to, according to Broden. The ability to carry that through no matter what is the stuff of survival school.
Broden is involved in many projects to help people eat healthy, which is how she came in contact with Pastor Patrick Wayne Sanders, the webinar’s coordinator, who originally wanted her to help teach healthy habits .
She has worked with Sanders on several programs, and this is one of many webinars she is scheduled to speak at in the near future.
“I love Elder Sanders and every time I try to get involved,” says Broden, adding “everything they do is to help the community.”
This is also why in addition to her restaurant, she teaches classes on healthy vegan cooking (she does point out not all vegan food is healthy). Broden became a vegan after finding the switch in eating lifestyle helped clear up many of her health problems. Since then, getting people to maintain healthy eating habits has become almost a divine mission.
Broden doesn’t have a thesis statement on what she plans to discuss at the webinar. Instead she plans to use small easily digestible pieces of information and a Q&A session.
“You have to meet people where they are,” she says.
For those who want to take advantage of the webinar, sign up here.