Prior to COVID-19, Pomelo & Co was operating a burgeoning catering business, the Catering Project, supplying high-end food and beverage to corporate and special events.
Then practically overnight, all event catering work disappeared for the Sydney-based company, forcing it to innovate in order to keep the doors open.
“We lost 95 per cent of our catering bookings overnight and knew we needed to pivot in order to survive and keep our staff employed,” says owner Kaz Derbas.
In March, just weeks after the pandemic hit Australia, the company launched Pomelo + Online, adding home delivery into the mix.
“Over the years we’d had so many Catering Project customers request at-home deliveries of our chef-quality food so we knew the demand was there,” says Derbas.
With the help of a strong social media presence and partnerships with various local celebrities and influencers, the home delivery service became a massive success.
Derbas says Pomelo + Online has seen month-on-month sales increases and 70 per cent returning customers.
That success has allowed the business to keep 45 staff members from being stood down, including chefs, office staff, the logistics team and delivery drivers.
“Personally I’ve been overwhelmed by the team’s ability to come together and get stuck in to make Pomelo + Online a success, it made me realise how invaluable our staff are,” says Derbas.
A busy Christmas ahead
Following a successful year of home deliveries, Pomelo + Online has launched a range of Christmas catering solutions for groups entertaining at home.
The Christmas packs offer everything from Christmas hams and fresh seafood, right through to dessert.
“We’ve had such a wide range of customers pre-order, from families who simply don’t have time to join the 5am fish market queues to groups of friends who fancy treating themselves to a chef-quality Christmas dinner in the comfort of their own homes,” says Derbas.
The downtime for event catering has also allowed the team to prepare for 2021, which is already looking promising with more enquiries now starting to come in.
“We also spent the downtime improving logistics and back-end data for the Catering Project, so we will be able to bounce back as an even stronger business,” says Derbas.