COVID changed the journey of your favorite dish forever.
It’s a hit with fish vendors like John Paul Davies’ Key City coastal fish market in Port Townsend:
“About 60 percent. It has dropped significantly. “
And farmers who work the land like John Bellows’ Spring Rain Farm in Chimicum:
“Our annual sales and our cash flow are under enormous strain. Most of my restaurant accounts have their purchases closed or reduced to almost nothing. “
Even in Seattle, grocer Todd Biesold saw his customer base disappear:
“Where we sent you earlier, we know that there are probably 10 trips a day several times a day – not 10 times, a total of 10 – we barely have half a truck.”
John, Todd and John Paul represent the companies that keep restaurants alive. And now that restaurants have moved from full closure to 50 percent capacity last year, will that by itself repair the damage that has already been done?
Survival on Seafood
“We look forward to getting out of the pandemic,” says John Paul.
John Paul Davies’ Key City Fish opened in 1994 and serves seafood to more than 100 restaurants in the area. To survive, his company now sells products direct to grocery stores and has moved on to surfing and turfing – since he is now selling beef from local ranchers.
“We were able to adapt. to a sustainable model. So we are very – knocked on wood – we are happy that we made it, ”says Davies.
A farm finds a way
And the hit is even harder for farmers.
John Bellows says he sold boxes of meat and boxes of produce to restaurants in the Olympic Peninsula and Seattle on a weekly basis.
“And towards the end of March last year that came to a standstill. Some restaurants kept buying, but basically only one or two of maybe 20 restaurants still buy from us every six months, ”says John.
It is growing for a season that has not yet arrived. Like his products, John’s farm in Chimacum depends on its roots to stay alive.
“We are a unique operation. We are financed locally. All of our debts, all of our mortgages are held by people in our community. Everyone has a vested interest in our survival, ”says John.
John also takes his products directly to consumers via a farm stall.
But others don’t have that choice.
“And I have these people who have always paid on time and in tears because they can’t. And they just don’t know what else to do, ”says Todd Biesold.
Todd worked for Seattle-based distributor Merlino Foods his entire life.
It adapts to double-digit cuts in its fleet.
“The entire corridor from Pioneer Square to South Lake Union – the first strike was when most companies were sending their work from home to work from home. It literally went and just fell off the edge, ”says Todd.
With the Vaccine and Governor Inslee restaurants opening up to 50 percent capacity, Todd still worries about his customers.
“I’m deeply concerned that some of our places just aren’t coming back,” says Todd.
The fear is when Inslee takes a step backwards.
“And it just creates chaos in the entire chain. I mean, we pull it down to where we have customers who have placed orders, ”says Todd. “And then the command comes that we should be switched off, they will be sent back, half of them will be sent back. It’s just chaos, it is what it is. “
At the moment, many restaurants see a way to survive. The final steps of a trip are always the toughest, be it from a seaside fishmonger, farm, or warehouse.
But companies cannot do it alone.
Opening it depends on you – the customer. So bring your appetite because an entire industry is hungry for it.
“It’s hugely important,” says Todd. “I mean because they are the elixir of life. Because again the whole chain doesn’t start unless someone at the other end takes out food. “