100 Bowls Of Soup Shifts Focus To Carry On

HERNDON, VA — Like many Herndon small business owners, Katharine Mardirosian had to look at her business in a completely different way due to the coronavirus pandemic.

When Patch talked to the owner and founder of 100 Bowls of Soup back in April, she said the Sunset Business Park was like a ghost town, with so many non-essential businesses closed because of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s stay-at-home order.

“It’s really hard to see all of these businesses,” Mardirosian said, at the time. “They’re trying their best to adapt. I think that’s an inspiring message from what I’ve seen is the way with which many of these businesses have adapted, put their offerings online, tried to offer some semblance of a menu, even if it’s a carryout/curbside order.”

As a small-scale food production business, 100 Bowls of Soup did not have to close its doors, but Mardirosian did have to scale back its hours of operation, stopped offering cooking classes at its kitchen, and began offering curbside service. These changes and others allowed 100 Bowls of Soup to survive.

Mardirosian recently answered a few questions about how her business has weathered the first stages of Virginia’s reopening, and

How has your business fared through Phase 2 and now Phase 3 of Virginia’s phased reopening?

Throughout Phase 2 and 3, we have decided to keep our retail space closed to customers and offer sales through our online store or over the phone for curbside pickup only, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. We believe this is the best way to run our business while keeping our employees and customers safe. Our customers have been very understanding and we have been able to maintain the majority of our sales through both this new retail model and our wholesale business.

What changes have you been able to make in these new phases?

We have chosen to make no changes as we are able to continue our business using the same model we used before the phased reopening began.

How would you compare your current state to pre-coronavirus times?

Currently, it’s a very different level of awareness of what it means to create a safe space for employees and customers, always being vigilant about potential vulnerabilities. When we first opened our kitchen, over 10 years ago, the whole concept was one of transparency and an open kitchen, a place where customers could visit and buy soup but also see how it’s made, smell and taste the flavors and spices, see our ingredients, ask questions about how we cook everything from scratch. We can’t offer that experience anymore and that is unfortunate. But we are grateful to have a loyal customer base who understand the realities that we face and are supportive of what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.

What other comments would you like to share that you feel would be appropriate?

Due to the coronavirus, we have also been unable to host any cooking classes at our kitchen. However, we are putting together a series of online “Make It Together” cooking classes for late summer and fall. The idea is simple. Create delicious, nourishing foods in your own home kitchen with an instructor as a coach and mentor, guiding you through the steps of a recipe, answering questions and providing cooking tips. Just because we are apart doesn’t mean we can’t cook together.

Also see …

This is one in a series of articles Patch is writing about small businesses in the area are responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Small business owners can also add their the name of their business to our list of open businesses in Herndon and Reston.

This article originally appeared on the Herndon Patch

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