Family-run business loses nearly 2 million dollars due to COVID-19, now making a comeback

JACKSONVILLE —

One year ago, Jen and Jamey Evnoiuk had their lives turned upside down.

The husband and wife own Chef’s Garden Catering and Events. This time last year their company was gearing up for the busiest Spring season in the history of their company.

“We just finished the symphony gala for like 300 people,” Earnest said. “The following weeks calls started coming in asking what we were going to do about COVID.”

One by one people began canceling events at a rapid pace.

“In a weeks’ time we watch over $200,000 in Spring business disappear and it just kept going from there,” Earnest said. “It was like utter panic.”

That number grew to nearly two million dollars in revenue lost for 2020.

“I mean we’re a family business,” Earnest said. “My mom founded it. My husband and I work together, so there was really no back up plan.”

It wasn’t until she was scrolling on social media one day that she found a temporary solution to their problem.

“I was scrolling on Facebook and a friend said ‘who is meeting me for a virtual happy hour?’ and that’s where the idea clicked for me,” Earnest said. Jen and Jamey pivoted to virtual cooking classes.

It started with their MacBook and an iPhone and grew into a huge production.

“We have a team. We had the product that we could do virtual cooking classes,” Earnest said. “Kind of take that happy hour idea up a notch, but actually deliver all the ingredients to everybody’s doorstep as well.”

The couple was able to keep their 30 employees on staff with this new plan. What was previously going to be temporary is now permanent. The two are slowly catering events again, but say the virtual classes are a big hit and they have fun doing it.

“Life throws us curveballs,” Earnest said. “If you can go back to what your core competencies are, what your passion is, and how you can serve your community, and if you can lean into the trust more than the fear, I really believe that we can find solutions,” Earnest said.