Aviatra Spotlight: Mavis Linnemann-Clark

The pandemic has brought many unprecedented challenges for entrepreneurs and small business owners. We asked Aviatra alum, Mavis Linnemann-Clark, owner of The Delish Dish, Made by Mavis Artisan Jams, and Kickstart Kitchen, how she has managed and pivoted amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

  1. How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your business?

COVID-19 has been devastating to the catering and events industry, just like the restaurant industry. We lost all of our corporate business overnight (33% of our business) when folks moved to working from home. No one hosted an event in their home for months. Many of our weddings were moved to 2021or cancelled, but thankfully some did simply reschedule to the fall, and we’ve been catering weddings since July. However, November and December are some of our busiest months of the year, and with the increase in COVID cases, we are not sure what to expect. We had expected 2020 to be our best year ever, and instead, our sales are down 50%.

  1. How have you pivoted or adapted?

In March, we created a carryout menu and moved to a curbside carryout and delivery model. While this did not offset our losses completely, it helped us keep our kitchen cooking and our full-time employees working. When restaurants opened in June, our carryout business faded, but weddings were permitted, so we pivoted back to full-service catering. With the fall and more folks moving indoors, we just launched a new permanent branch of our company called The Delish Dish To Go. At our new food shop, we have pre-made dinners for two, take-and-bake appetizers, soups, breakfast items, as well cookie dough and desserts available for folks to order online and stop by and pick up.

  1. How are you staying motivated?

When the pandemic first hit, I definitely wallowed at home for a few days. Then I remembered that this is not how I do things and that I needed to make a plan and take action, rather than closing my company for an undetermined amount of time. So I put on my big girl panties, and I got to work.

The drive to keep my employees working so that we can all feed our families and pay our bills is certainly motivation to figure out new and creative ways to keep my business open. 

  1. How have you managed your staff during this time? (maintain, layoff, furlough, etc.)  

Our salaried staff has continued to be paid their full-time wage. Some of our hourly workers chose to basically furlough themselves until there was enough work to be had, while we did our best to keep the rest of our staff cooking with carryout and catering orders.

  1. What have you learned from the pandemic?

That no matter how many years you’ve been in business, there will come a time when you are forced to adapt and change and to create something new where there wasn’t before. You can cry for a day or two, but after that, put your feet to the floor and make things happen.

  1. Do you have any advice for small business owners and entrepreneurs right now?   

Don’t panic. Take deep breaths. Be creative. Be resourceful. Use your contacts and your staff to help you shape and create new ideas and facets of your business. Put in the work. This too shall pass.