Every business, large and small, has a story about how the COVID-19 pandemic changed things for them. For us at Tall Guy and a Grill, it has meant a profound shakeup, with the last two and a half months feeling we’re building a whole new business from scratch.
Since 2016, we had seen skyrocketing growth by providing food for large gatherings like weddings, birthday parties, corporate events – you know, the exact type of activities COVID-19 put a sudden stop to back in mid-March. We were grounded facing an uncertain future, not knowing when things might possibly go back to normal.
Like many businesses, we had to make painful cuts to our team. While we often have run 30 to 35 employees strong, right now there are just four of us. The events that were our lifeblood had gone away, so we had to think of new ways to present our products to people.
That’s where ingenuity has come in. I remember the first time we decided to sell wings at our space on Lincoln Avenue in West Allis. We had no idea who, if anyone, would come, but with very little advertising or fanfare, we sold out our supply of 150 wings in about a half-hour. That led to #WingsWednesday, which has only gotten more popular. Then came #ThirstyThursday and White Claw Fish Fry on Fridays. At first we were mainly seeing a lot of familiar faces of friends, family members and past clients. And as welcome as those were, it’s been so heartening to see a lot of new faces over the past few weeks, allowing us to add to the Tall Guy and a Grill family.
We also have changed up some of our regular services, adding a curbside carryout element to wedding tastings. We now have packages that are suitable for gatherings of 50 or less, and we’re confident we will be able to deliver that personal touch people love about us to these events and do it safely. Everyone here knew we needed to make changes if we were going to survive, and seeing our people believe in those changes and ride them to new successes has been one of the best things to come out of this strange time we are in.
As an entrepreneur, I love to solve problems, and COVID-19 has been a problem unlike any other we’ve faced. We may be edging our way back to normal in some areas, but the effects of what we’re all going through are definitely going to linger for some time. But for all the uncertainty out there, one thing that remains certain is how much people like to be around each other. Celebrating life’s big events – or just celebrating the everyday joy of getting to be together in one place – is going to mean even more to us for having gone through this.