In a normal year, Theresa Fouquette would be getting ready for her busiest season. She would be reviewing her inventory, ordering ingredients, reviewing her staffing requirements and trying out new flavors on aficionados who never wait for summer as a reason to eat ice cream.
But as we all know, this is not a normal year.
Fouquette’s business, Bliss Small Batch Creamery, is one of the lucky ones, though. She is still open, although business is a fraction of what it would normally be at this time of year. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Fouquette to re-think how she does business now…and what she will need to do in the future.
“We are in survival mode,” she says. Having received an emergency loan from her own lender as well as a federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, Fouquette has been given some breathing room and has used it to adjust her business model to accommodate the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. Bliss has closed its dining room but Fouquette is open daily for two hours from 5 to 7 p.m. for to-go orders of prepacked pints of its signature ice cream.
Although customers can still place walk-up orders at their front door, Bliss is encouraging customers to place pre-orders so her staff can have the products ready for quick pickup with minimal contact. “Whether people use GrubHub or Uber Eats or just contact us directly, our goal is to try to fill all orders with the ultimate concern for our customers’ safety and our own,” Fouquette says. The business is currently staffed by Fouquette, her husband, Dave and their son, Caden, as well as Fouquette’s sister and business partner, Stacie Leaf.
No one knows when the crisis will end, so Fouquette is also re-thinking her summer business plans. She has begun to research the idea of making neighborhood deliveries, offering curbside service and will be marketing new half-pint pre-packed ice cream through the growing network of neighborhood food trucks. “We know that we won’t be doing samples anymore, but I have brought back two college students who worked for us last summer to help us with our packing,” she says. And they can also lend a hand with what Fouquette says is a rising demand.
“With everyone staying home, we are seeing a big rise in cake orders.
Everyone wants an ice cream cake,” she says.