Melanie McCready of Bowen Island Pizza Co. in Vancouver
When the pandemic struck, many restaurants found themselves in a precarious situation. For pizzeria owner Melanie McCready, her situation verged on being downright rotten. Having pre-ordered a massive amount of fresh ingredients for a mega event, the Bowen Island Pizza Co. found itself in a serious predicament when it was cancelled. Protecting public health may have put her business in danger, but the public stepped up to help. Learn what happened.
“If you are lucky enough to have a community that has supported you in the past, ask for help. Be specific and be vulnerable, tell people how things really are and what they can do to help you out right away.” – Melanie McCready, owner of Bowen Island Pizza Co.
For Melanie McCready, pizza has always been a part of life. Growing up, her mom made it for friends and family every Friday night. When McCready left for university, she carried on the tradition. First, by catering pizza parties then by starting the Bowen Island Pizza Co.
Like many pizzerias, the Bowen Island Pizza Co. offers both take-out and delivery. Having this infrastructure in place put her ahead of the curve when the pandemic struck, but McCready had a more unique challenge to overcome. Her pizzeria had been preparing for a massive public festival and was expecting an influx of 20,000 eaters. When it was cancelled, she risked being buried under costly ingredients she couldn’t recoup. Incredibly, the local community came to her aide. She explains, “Bowen banded together, shared my story, and over 175 pizzas were ordered that week! It was so overwhelming and emotional. None of the food we had prepared went to waste and it provided a big influx of cash.”
The outpouring of support gave McCready the means to go on, but it hasn’t been a walk in the park. There’s been a significant loss in revenue because of their remote location and lack of foot traffic. As such, she’s had to adapt. McCready says, “Initially, we did experience a loss of sales hovering around 70%. This prompted us to increase our delivery frequency to Bowen Island and Lions Bay.” She further pivoted by reducing her lunchtime menu, partnering with new delivery service apps, and heavily relying on social media to engage customers.
McCready has learned many lessons over the past few months. The most important one: ask for help when you need it. “It can be lonely if you don't have friends in the industry or entrepreneurs in your world. Do your best to reach out to those who can understand your specific circumstances, and work with them to brainstorm on how you can get creative during this bizarre time.”
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