Rooted in the quiet town of Lausanne, Switzerland sits the gem that is Street Kitchen Café. Their dedicated team is led by head chef Emma Litkie and her co-owner husband Toni Schwab. As I arrive, Emma and Toni are loading up their delivery van with the day’s Dinner Kits. Dinner Kits by SK is their new brainchild, inspired by their customers, that has blossomed during the challenges of the COVID19 pandemic. By creating 80% prepped and semi-cooked meals to finish off at home, they deliver fresh and vibrant food directly to their customers’ doorsteps. Emma grins: “You’ve caught us in action! Welcome to a taste of our day to day.”
This is a good place to start. Tell me more about how your day to day is during this pandemic? Wow, yes! Things have changed for us. Businesses like us must change our business model, that’s for sure. We were 80% catering, 20% café and food service. Events are done for the foreseeable future.
Is this where the idea for Dinner Kits came from? We had the idea going before the pandemic. We felt like it would be a great idea for busy parents as well. Even I don’t have time cook properly at home and I’m a chef.
Dinner Kits really showcase what we love to do. Our focus is on products sourced as locally as possible with special emphasis on supporting small businesses. We prepare all our food in our professional laboratory kitchen outside of town, and then deliver in Lausanne with the café as the base-station.
If you look at the industry, the future has been turning more and more to delivery. There is the trend now for dark kitchens using an out of city location with lower rent, to prepare the food and either delivering from there.
COVID was the perfect opportunity to kick everything off. It forced us to put our plan into action.
How have you managed to stay positive and adapt so quickly? Oh yes! It’s been hard, I’m not going to lie, there have been moments of panic. But when crisis mode hits, the only way to survive is to jump into action. You can’t just freeze or relax too much. The way to stay positive is to pivot and adapt. For me I like the challenge. And it’s exciting and it’s super creative on the food side. Dinner Kits have been a cool way to diversify what we do.
What have been some of the challenges? The logistics of it. At the beginning we were doing everything ourselves, because we couldn’t afford to have people doing the deliveries. I mean, third parties like Uber charge 30% for delivery. They wouldn’t stop hassling us over Covid, they charge so much that even with the all the promises they were giving us, using them would eat completely into our profit margin!
We were lucky because we had already been working on the project, but even this business model needs adapting to be more sustainable. Although we have had a great start, if it’s going to replace the revenue loss from events and catering, we will need to innovate.
What things do you have in mind? We are looking at growing the radius that we’re delivering in and working with the post office on same day delivery packages.
We are also starting a pantry line that will be more simple and cheaper than the main Dinner Kits. We are going back to the basics with things like broths and pickles. We want to hit different price points to have something for everyone. Naturally, we are always wanting to please our current customers and attract new ones. That’s another reason we enjoy TWISPER actually, it's a great way to see the positive buzz of customer recommendations help us reach a wider network.
Speaking of your customers, what kinds of positive interactions have you had with them during this time? We actually got a card in the mail from one family, who said that our Dinner Kits were the only thing they had to look forward to, being stuck at home during lockdown. I think that when everything gets taken away from you, you only have mealtimes to enjoy, it’s the only social thing that’s left in the day. Our Dinner Kits were able to give a little bit of joy, like eating out at a restaurant.
We listen a lot to what our customers say. We prepare food that we enjoy, and they enjoy. Within our variation we have something for everyone. We got a lot of feedback – people weren’t eating out as much, and they liked the more exotic sort of dishes, so we played around with that.
Looking to the future, what tips do you have for others in the industry going forward? If you don’t reinvent yourself, you won’t make it. Small changes can lead to big results. And keep in mind the customers that love what you’re doing.
Street Kitchen Café is using TWISPER Business to enhance their online presence and leverage the proven power of digital word of mouth to connect with new customers. Join them and claim your business for free on TWISPER.
TWISPER is on a mission to bring fairness and positivity back to the hospitality industry. During this unprecedented time, we hope to cast light on the grit, resilience and determination that are an inherent part of the industry. We know that these qualities will lead to recovery and restoration as we look to the future. Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to get the latest industry news and TWISPER announcements.