Zoe's Meats supplied the deli meats, bacon and some cheeses to make approximately 15,000 meals for those in need during the COVID-19 Pandemic. George Gavros, Founder of Zoe's Meats, says, "When COVID hit us in Mid-March 2020, more than 50% of our business was to restaurants, hotels, cafes and restaurant distributors. We instantly had three problems. One, our customers closed and did not place orders. Two, we had inventory for them that they did not want. Three, they could not pay their bills. It was a humbling experience."
In the midst of this difficult situation, Zoe's Meats had to furlough employees and brace for a period of rough times. Gavros highlights, "We went through this when we were in Santa Rosa and the fires were less than a half mile from our warehouse. We lost power for about 10 days, we got shut down, and we learned how to persevere. This go around though, it was different. Everyone was affected in the restaurant world."
But there was a silver lining. Zoe's Meats sales to retailers grew by 35% almost overnight. The retail packaged products in their line-up became everyday staples for retailers large and small in the greater Bay Area especially when many other suppliers could not get products on the shelf. The products intended for restaurants though were a different story. "We could not just throw away all these products intended for restaurants, or put them in the freezer and hope that someday we can sell it," said Gavros. Radha Romero who heads up accounting and human resources at Zoe's Meats urged the company to look into Redwood Empire Food Bank. "They prepare meals" she explained and that was how it all began.
Organizations like Catholic Charities, COTS, The Living Room, Council on Aging, Sonoma Oversight Support and Windsor Service Alliance all pull product from Redwood Empire Food Bank to prepare meals. In 2020, some of these meals featured some pretty amazing bacon, ham, cheddar, and other products that have made Zoe's Meats an artisan food brand in Northern California and beyond.
Source: Zoe’s Meats