Grafton, Ont., businesses Ste. Anne’s Spa and Soups2Go collaborate to keep Soups2Go a go
By Canadian PizzaCOVID-19 Updates Features Business and Operations Profiles
Grafton, Ont. – As Covid-19 continues to disrupt livelihoods and shutter industries, we could all use a feel-good story of resilience, and businesses lending one another a helping hand.
For Grafton, Ont., entrepreneur Terry Carruthers, creative collaboration has kept her Soups2Go business on the front burner, and helped find jobs for her staff. Soup’s on thanks to working together with local business leader Jim Corcoran, owner and general manager of Ste. Anne’s Spa in Grafton.
With nowhere to cook her hot-serve take-out items and staff facing reduced hours, Corcoran has provided a mobile accessory kitchen right next to Ste. Anne’s Bakery, and hired Carruthers’ workers to dish out her tasty soups and delicious hot takeout foods. The partnership has also helped Carruthers find a building to make her seven different soups and grow her business nationally.
“It’s a collaborative relationship, and one that I hope continues,” says Corcoran, a celebrated entrepreneur who exemplifies how local business people working together can create solutions to help one another in tough times.
He had a brand new kitchen truck he wasn’t using and she had the staff and homemade takeout foods loved by locals, but nowhere to go. Joining forces has resulted in an uptick in sales at the bakery from residents, spa clients and spa staff, and Carruthers is once again happily handcrafting delicious dishes made with fresh local ingredients and cooking up expansion plans.
“One of the things about crisis is that it brings out creativity and collaboration, and in this case incredible generosity,” she says. “I had never met Jim prior to this pandemic, but he’s been the silver lining in this situation.”
Carruthers has come up against endless challenges and devastating letdowns since the initial mandated shutdowns in the spring. She was temporarily shut out of her commercial kitchen in the nearby Ontario Agri-Food Venture Centre in April, and recently was denied approval to continue renting her new location in the canteen kitchen at the local arena, where she had added staff and a side hustle of hot takeout, including fish and chips, chili and burgers.
She faced financial loss, and the heartbreak of laying off her canteen staff and not being able to feed her following. “Soup is the ultimate comfort food at a time when comfort is important,” Carruthers says. “We offered the community a sense of normalcy during these uncertain times.”
Thanks to Corcoran’s helping hand, Carruthers is once again feeding the community they both so deeply care about. She has also added more to her soup pot – the task of renovating the heritage building she bought from Corcoran in order to grow her Soups2Go business. The new location will feature a hot takeout food service, plus locally-made retail products, including those from Ste. Anne’s Bakery.
As Soups2Go forges forward, learning to improvise and adapt, many Canadian businesses have been upended by the pandemic and also work tirelessly to make a comeback. Ste. Anne’s Spa is once again fully booked, but Corcoran suffered a loss of $4 million in revenue and increased debt because of the pandemic.
“I look forward to the day when this is behind us,” says Corcoran, who used the downtime to do improvements at the resort, and support his staff, community and local businesses.
Carruthers believes a brighter future is simmering, one that she’ll help make happen by “conquering every challenge that comes my way… one bowl of soup at a time.”
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