Restaurants, catering companies pivot during holiday due to COVID-19 pandemic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- This year big parties are out and smaller orders are in as kitchens across the city and the suburbs just try to stay busy.

Restaurants and catering companies are pivoting this holiday season due to the pandemic.

Instead of hosting holiday parties or catering to big events, they're taking orders from families.

This holiday season looks much different for Tasty Catering in Elk Grove. The family-owned company usually fills massive orders, but that all changed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It all happened in like two days. It was like weddings, picnics, people canceling meetings," said Shari Brown with Tasty Catering.

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The company had to shake up their usual buffet style meals.

"How do we take our menus and turn them into individual meals so people will feel safe eating them," Brown asked herself.

Right now, Tasty's sales are down 70%.

"But we're picking up new business that is keeping us going," Brown said.

In the next 48 hours, thousands of holiday meals will be prepped, packed and shipped out as catering companies whip up smaller orders at a higher volume.

The kitchen at Roberto's in Elmhurst is also slammed.

The team even had to come in early Thursday morning to fill thousands of orders.

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Pasquale Morici, the owner of Roberto's, is not complaining about that early wakeup call.

"Got here at 5:30 a.m.," he said with a smile.

He's happy to have a boost in business as his homemade pasta, gourmet pizza, and other specialties cook up in the western suburbs.

"Ordering the seafood mixes, pasta, chicken, and more orders of the seafood salads, steaks to go-to," he said.

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Even on Christmas Eve, those orders are still rolling in.

"We make it right before it needs to leave and before the customer gets here so there is no lag time," Pasquale said.

Even with all of the obstacles, Roberto's has managed to keep their staff on during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I have kept everyone and I am also trying to hire new people. Get some people off the street and make sure that everyone is working," Moreci said.

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The increase in orders has been a boost for local restaurants while reminding everyone to not forget about them after the holidays.
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