In the midst of a “panic” over the COVID-19 global pandemic, a South Surrey business owner has carved a pathway to success and he’s sharing his advice with other small business owners.
“Wednesday, we all woke up and all of a sudden the world was ending,” The Carvery Sandwich Shop owner Bryan Mendiola told Peace Arch News Sunday morning. “That’s when everything kind of hit, the market crashed, they issued no travel from the B.C. Health Ministry. So Thursday, we were dead.”
Mendiola said he was expecting a drop in customers, but “not that dramatic and not that instant.”
South Surrey sandwich shop. pic.twitter.com/hn3zX4Xjgf
— Aaron Hinks (@aaron_hinks) March 12, 2020
Thursday, the Carvery Sandwich Shop (2430 King George Blvd.) posted a message on its social media platforms asking for support from its customers.
“The Carvery is practically empty today along with many other businesses in the area. We understand the situation and we hope that you continue to support all of us small businesses in times like this,” Mendiola wrote to the company’s Facebook page March 12. “If you are healthy go on and live normally, if you are sick stay home or see a doctor. We will do our part to keep our facility sanitized…. We need you more so than ever before.”
The Carvery followed the statement with a number of social media posts showing the steps the company is taking to disinfect high-traffic areas of the store.
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“The next Friday, we were slammed. We were busy. People showed up, so I think it’s just a matter of communicating with the public, they want to feel comfortable,” Mendiola said.
Under normal circumstances, the shop only sells its fried chicken sandwich on Wednesdays. However, Mendiola said they switched that up and offered to sell the chicken sandwich on Saturday.
“Saturday was our record breaking day, and I’ve been open for four years,” Mendiola said, adding that they sold about 180-200 chicken sandwiches in two hours.
“That’s triple what we would normally… or quadruple what we’d normally do on a regular special day,” he said.
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Mendiola said a business owner in Australia reached out to him and asked for his advice.
“My biggest advice to everybody is just communicate with your clientele. Ask them for help. I had no problem asking my clientele, saying, ‘hey, you know, we’re experiencing slower times,’” Mendiola said.
Mendiola said business owners also have to give something back, and in his case it was explaining the steps his shop is taking to disinfect high-traffic zones and the dining area.
However, the pandemic is having an impact on other portions of his business. The Carvery, much like many other restaurants in the Semiahmoo Peninsula, offers a catering service.
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“Big gatherings like catering events, corporate meetings and things like that are just dropping off like flies,” Mendiola said. “So that’s where I’m losing most of my business… Like, I’ve had over 10 of those cancelled just next week.”
With wedding season approaching, many brides and grooms are cancelling their event due to the virus. The cancellations directly impact businesses that offer catering services, he added.
“And those are not little accounts. Those are like $10,000-$20,000 food accounts that are being cancelled.”
Mendiola said he will have to “get creative” to make up the losses from his catering business.
“The catering world is the first thing to have been affected more so than I think the foot traffic.”
Friday, provincial health office Bonnie Henry said it’s still safe to visit restaurants.
“We’re not talking about shutting down society here,” she said. “It’s still very safe today in B.C. – all across B.C. – to go out, to go shopping, to go to restaurants.”
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