As the pandemic spread, businesses faced forced closures, and people lost hope. It was a nightmare, seemingly spiraling downward and never-ending. I felt down, too, but I knew my purpose and knew I had to continue feeding souls.
At first, the virus was too far from entering Dallas that nobody paid attention to it. We thought it would eventually blow off. It wasn’t until lockdown happened that our new reality forced itself on us.
In the months following that, it was either we keep moving forward or give up and let the pandemic win. Fast forward to a year later, and I’m here, pondering over the things I learned in Asian Mint one year into the pandemic.
For a business to survive a pandemic, you need innovation.
If there’s one thing all pandemic-surviving businesses share in common, it’s innovation. Cities were locked, curfews and strict protocols took place, and people were frustrated. If your customers can’t approach you, you’ll need to come to them instead. More importantly, you need to develop an offering that makes life a little better for them.
At Asian Mint, we swiftly transitioned some of our serving staff into delivery drivers when the lockdowns started. I also figured out a way to keep feeding our customers’ souls by creating ChefMint cooking prep kits and a line of Thai sauces.
I realized that you can’t always order takeout. There will always be times when families crave restaurant-quality food served freshly cooked. Since people can’t eat in restaurants, I thought their food should come to the people in the freshest, most accessible way possible when they’re tired of takeout.
I started creating ChefMint kits. The kits are easy-to-cook meal preparation kits meant to break the monotony of staying and eating at home by summoning a restaurant environment feeling as you dine. I also created my line of Thai sauces to help everyone cook Thai food with ease. It was just so hard to get the right ingredients during the lockdown.
Gratefulness leads to hopefulness and positivity.
Even with a surviving business, I also don’t think we could have made it through without practicing gratitude. It’s easy to lose hope in a pandemic-wrought world, easy to see the negatives, and even easier to forget the little things that deserve our gratitude.
I did my best to ensure everyone in Asian Mint practiced gratitude. Before I knew it, we began to see glimmers of hope for everything we’re thankful for, even at times when everything seems hopeless. Appreciation led to optimism for us. It’s one of the things that allowed us to stay afloat in the pandemic year.
Acting fast is the key to survival.
We did our best to ensure everyone’s satisfaction and safety. As soon as the lockdowns started, I asked some Asian Mint serving staff to shift to doing deliveries. Thanks to acting fast, we managed to soul-feed our customers as they stayed at home, and our team kept their jobs.
Focus on the things you can do.
Asian Mint couldn’t open itself to customers for months during the pandemic year. Even when we did, we had a capacity limit. Instead of focusing on what we can’t do, we concentrated on the things we can actually do.
For example, we can’t serve customers in our restaurant, but we can deliver takeout, meal kits, and sauces. We can’t feed our customers’ souls in person, but we can make their pandemic life more manageable by helping them with our soul-feeding meals and kits.
We had to limit our movements, but we didn’t need to restrict our efforts, so we went all out on focusing on doing the things we can do.
See How Other Restaurants Survived One Year into the Pandemic
Plenty of businesses sank during the pandemic, and I’m so grateful we managed to stay afloat. Honestly, the whole year was a blur and only a matter of staying afloat and ensuring we’re following our purpose.
It was a demanding and challenging year. All I wanted to do was make life a little better for ourselves and everyone around us. Looking back, I think Asian Mint managed to do that. I’m also glad some of our local restaurant neighbors survived, too.
If you’d like to read their stories and learned lessons, check out Dallas Observer’s article about chefs and restauranteurs one year into the pandemic.