IN RECENT years, the food catering business has represented a bright spot in the food and beverage industry in Cebu. Occasions ranging from birthdays, weddings to corporate events including high-value meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions have made food catering an on-demand dining.
Cebuanos’ love for food and gathering, not to mention Cebu’s vibrant tourism industry, have spurred business opportunities for catering operators such as Cebu Red Carpet Catering, which has been in the business for 40 years.
Then along came the Covid-19 pandemic that decimated the food business sector, forcing closures and layoffs, locking people in their homes and limiting people’s movement.
“We have never seen such a big crisis as this pandemic,” said Jovie Uy-Kanchanapairoj, vice president of Cebu Red Carpet Catering. “The business slowed down.”
From as high as 100 bookings in a month pre-pandemic, Kanchanapairoj said they even struggle to get one booking a day in the new normal. But since the lifting of the strict lockdowns in the second half of 2020, events slowly resumed, but activities are still snail-paced.
But despite the mess the pandemic has created, Kanchanapairoj said small events like birthdays, baptisms, and intimate weddings are keeping them afloat. They also pivoted to survive by tapping social media for food deliveries, offering innovative products such as party boxes.
And just recently, the company unveiled its 400–pax capacity events place called Heartland Estate in Basak, San Nicolas, Cebu City.
“We used to be moving from one place to another. Now, we decided to put our own party place to give our clients options,” Kanchanapairoj said, adding that it was also the long time dream of her mom, Red Carpet founder Vicky Uy, to have her own party place.
“We want to have a place for events, especially that houses are now getting smaller,” she said. The event place was planned long before the pandemic.
Such investment, according to Kanchanapairoj, is also in preparation for the market rebound.
“The pandemic for us was a correction. We were able to revisit our business plan and strengthen our back work. We were also able to see the immense opportunities online and went full blast in the digital space,” she said.
Heartland Estate’s event place can be divided into four small functions.
In the months to come, Kanchanapairoj said they plan to open a cooking institute that will offer a crash course in cooking.
She noted that the pandemic has ignited the interest of homeowners to learn to cook with some of them opening their kitchen to sell home-cooked dishes, among others. (KOC)