The Rebound: Treasure Valley businesses adapting to COVID

Posted at 8:52 AM, Dec 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-07 11:35:41-05

IDAHO — With COVID-19 health measures in place across much of the Valley, many businesses are adapting their models to keep customers and staff safe while others open their doors for the first time amid the crisis.

Lemon Tree Co. in downtown Boise has been open for a couple of years now, but owner Jasson Parra says many people could be discovering their hand-crafted sandwiches for the first time due to a rise in food delivery service. He says the impact of delivery has helped Lemon Tree keep its doors open and hire back all of the staff originally laid off when the pandemic started in March.

"We, like most businesses, were down 75% in March. So we were obviously super nervous, pivoted, and you know, we were very fortunate that the community really has stepped up and supported us," Parra explains.

Parra says it's not only the increase in takeout customers keeping them afloat; it's also the connection between other small business owners to work together and create local food and beverage packages for Treasure Valley customers.

"We're always looking out for each other and always trying to partner up and try to promote each other whether it's a package deal, like a meal or cider," he says. "We've hooked up with Meriwether before, and we've done some dinner with them and they've sold their cider. It's really kind of an effort amongst us all just to try to help each other and promote each other."

Since opening, Lemon Tree has teamed up with various businesses, including Paddles Up Poke and The Stil, for their local packages. They've also continued to support the Ronald McDonald House in Boise throughout the pandemic.

Parra says Lemon Tree is looking at opening a second Boise location in the future, but they've already been given a unique opportunity to expand during the pandemic. Lemon Tree only serves lunch and dinner in Boise, but at its new Grove by Lemon Tree in Meridian, you'll find breakfast added to the menu. Grove is one of the 16 concepts at the newly-opened Crave commercial kitchen.

Crave Delivery first started operations in spring out of its commercial space in the Ten Mile Crossing area, offering world-class dishes from around the United States to foodies in the Treasure Valley. The group celebrated the grand opening of its commercial kitchen in November, but they tell Idaho News 6 they were already seeing success before cutting the ribbon.

"The response from the community has been outstanding. People are really excited to see what we're doing, offering a different level of delivery in their homes, and also give them access to restaurants they may be familiar with in their travels or business in other cities," says Crave co-founder Scott Howard.

Howard says his fellow co-founders saw dining trends moving toward a delivery-only format anyway so opening during a time when people would be using food delivery options more made sense. Crave offers select menu items and even fresh ideas from restaurants out of Washington, California, and Texas, but the people preparing the dishes, the ingredient list, and the delivery drivers are all local.

"Here in this facility, we've got 16 concepts so we have about 200 employees here which are all obviously local that we've hired, and with the concepts that we're bringing, we're introducing them to local purveyors so they're using all the local suppliers, local farms, and incorporating all those items into their menus," Howard explains.

Delivery through Crave is only available in app form, but they also offer pick-up. Crave is looking at opening another commercial space in Salt Lake City.