Local Heroes: The Catering Outfit Team’s COVID-19 Response Goes Above and Beyond
In some of us, crises bring out the best. Like The Catering Outfit team.
When the pandemic hit, Walter Slawski and crew sprung into action and have been a blur of activity ever since. With stellar results. They built a drive-thru restaurant in their parking lot, open seven days a week — offering sandwiches, sides, and packages for stocking the fridge. They started a take-home family meal service, with chef-prepped meals and cooking instructions to finish at home. They created The Atrium Market, a curbside pick-up source for hand sanitizer that they made themselves, along with masks, beer, wine, and other essentials. They launched pop-up food stands at places like Castle Hill Cider. They catered “elopement meals” for make-shift socially distanced weddings. And, they operated a takeout program with sister restaurant The Shebeen.
As if trying to keep two food businesses alive during a pandemic was not enough, all the while they looked for ways to help others. They created a food bank that provides free bags of groceries and pantry items to restaurant workers in need, two days a week. They offer 50% discounts to all health care workers and first responders. In “Buy a Mask – Give a Mask” – they send masks to overseas military and government workers. And, on Make a Difference Mondays, they donate 10% of proceeds to a new charity each week.
Plus, their food is delicious, like today’s special for Memorial Day: a Western Philly Cheesesteak, with shaved New York Strip, tobacco onions, sautéed mushrooms, poblano peppers, queso, and Texas mop sauce. A portion of proceeds will go towards buying masks for military families overseas.
Roll call below on the hard-working The Catering Outfit team.
In Walter Slawski’s words:
Bekah Cannon is our Head Catering Chef and has been an amazing help getting the TCOC2GO drive thru program launched. She has switched gears from off-site catering to help build our menu filled with our house smoked meats and daily specials each week. She also has helped to produce our Foodbar kitchen boxes and elopement packages. Bekah also ‘cooked up’ our new hand sanitizer for The Atrium Market. She is the backbone of our kitchen and her positive attitude has been a bright spot during the last three months.
Courtney Hildebrand is our Director of Catering and Sales for The Catering Outfit. Courtney is our main contact with our catering clients and has helped guide our clients through rescheduling their events or navigating holding smaller events during this time. In typical fashion, Courtney always tries to keep us busy and is constantly creating new concepts and ventures for The Catering Outfit. She helped launch the foodbar|kitchen meal kits and elopement packages, and helped to form our partnership with Frontline Foods to feed healthcare workers and first responders. She is currently working on partnering the TCO2GO program for delivery to neighborhoods in the Charlottesville and Albemarle areas. She has been essential in finding a path forward with changes needed to operate during the pandemic.
Sam Clarke, who joined us last year as an event coordinator, has been instrumental in setting up our new online shop, The Atrium Market. She has seamlessly switched gears from leading events off-site to being our resident graphic designer and website builder. She has helped spearhead the TCO2GO program and organize and train our staff for the new drive thru set up. You will even find her smiling face behind the drive thru some days, filing in, as we are open seven days a week to help serve great food to the Charlottesville community. Sam, who comes from a military family, also started our ‘buy a mask, give a mask’ program to help bring masks to active military and government civilians overseas who are in need of these essential items.
Megan Slawski is the general manager of The Shebeen. She has been instrumental in keeping our restaurant doors open and streamlining our curbside to go efforts. Through these efforts, we have been able to keep our core restaurant staff employed during this crisis. Megan is the hardest working woman I know — an incredible wife, mother to our two girls, and business partner.
We also couldn’t continue without the help of our staff, many of whom have volunteered their time during the last couple of months to get our new programs launched- thank you Dean, Cameron, Carolyn, Andrew, James, Gonzalo, Brenda, Andrew (yes we have two), Allison, Henry, Rosa, Connor and Kelsi.
Our new operations also would not have happened without the support of Steve and Jason with MS Events, Mike Morris, Jason Haddock of Sysco, Ian Atkins, videographer and friend of the outfit, Bill Norton of Rockpile Construction who continues to generously support the pantry, our friends at VA Eagle, making our drive thru signs, and Pepsi-Cola, who donated fridges for our take home and heat section. Most importantly the Charlottesville community for embracing our new ventures!”