Small NI Businesses in Lockdown: The Food Edition with Brook Avenue
About Brook Avenue
Brook Avenue is a small family run business that specialises in supplying and serving high quality small batch gelato. Using their custom built gelato cart, Brook Avenue cater for a wide range of functions including weddings, parties and corporate events.
Brook Avenue cater specifically for each event and serve custom made flavoured gelato that is freshly made for guests to enjoy. This unique and exclusive offering really helps to make their catering events that extra bit special.
Adapting to lockdown
Cancellation of Weddings
Catering at weddings is a core part of Brook Avenue's business and it was devastating when many couples had no option but to cancel or postpone their big day when lockdown measures were introduced. This meant that a large majority of Brook Avenue's customer base had essentially disappeared during lockdown which had a huge impact on the income that Brook Avenue could generate as a business.
It was also disappointing as Brook Avenue had made expansion plans for the business over 2020. This included the added investment in building a second cart and a second display freezer to allow for two gelato carts to be available to hire.
Gelato to Go
In response to the challenges they faced during lockdown, Brook Avenue diversified their business and offered a 'Gelato to Go' delivery service with weekly changing flavours that provided a much needed lockdown treat to those in the local area.
The service was well received and enabled Brook Avenue to extend their reach to customers who previously had no exposure to Brook Avenue Gelato. Gelato to Go also allowed Brook Avenue to continue making gelato and have photos to promote the business across social media platforms. A mystery flavour competition also ran several times on Instagram which provided further engagement with the brand to potential customers.
Small Business Collaborations
Brook Avenue did not qualify for any government support that was announced during lockdown, despite this the family run business continued to work hard and were successful in securing new business opportunities during this time.
Born n Bred
Brook Avenue were hired by cultural gift and souvenir shop Born n Bred, to celebrate the re-opening of their shop in Belfast by serving a free scoop of fresh gelato to every customer. This generated publicity for Brook Avenue Gelato over social media with the Jawbox Pinepple & Ginger Gin gelato proving a delicious treat for customers after lockdown restrictions had been recently lifted.
Brook Avenue also ventured into the retail sector with the launch of their flavoured gelato tubs to sell both online and in-store with local artisan food shop Two Sisters. This was great news for both small businesses who were feeling the economic impact of lockdown.
Brook Avenue joined forces with luxury hot chocolate business, Refuge Hot Chocolate, to offer chocolate chip cookies and brownies in a bundle offer alongside fresh gelato on their delivery menu. Mouthwatering pictures of cookie gelato sandwiches enticed customers to try the new bundles.
The company's most recent food collaboration has been with Cerealisly, a newly established cereal cafe based on the Belmont Road in East Belfast. Brook Avenue introduced three new exciting flavours into the cafe including Lucky Charms, Kellogg's Crunchy Nut and Teddy Graham Cinnamon gelato.
Social Media Support
The cancellation of wedding fairs meant that social media platforms particularly Instagram and facebook were a lifeline to Brook Avenue for promoting their business to potential clients. New facebook and Instagram accounts that were launched during lockdown including the local 'whoisdeliveringni' account provided much needed support to Brook Avenue by sharing posts on their new Gelato to Go delivery service to their feed.
Brook Avenue also used the “nextdoor app” which enabled them to build connections and reach people in their local postcode area.
During one of the most difficult times the UK and Irish economy has ever faced, Brook Avenue realised that it was either sink or swim. Through creativity, innovation and adaptability the family run company is an excellent example of a small business that managed to stay afloat during these difficult times. Brook Avenue were able to identify the opportunities that arose from lockdown and generated income through avenues that perhaps they never would have considered before.
Looking ahead, weddings will continue to remain priority and Brook Avenue have recently launched a petite package to cater for weddings that are now allowed to go ahead with smaller numbers. The second gelato cart they invested in will no doubt help their busy wedding schedule during 2021. Brook Avenue have high hopes for the future and are looking forward to securing new relationships and further expanding their business.
Visit Brook Avenue's website below where you can also find links to their Instagram and Facebook accounts.