Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, we’ve all been faced with unforeseen changes and challenges. Many have had to navigate struggles and obstacles like job loss, reduced income, and fear of the unknown. But throughout this time, we’ve seen countless individuals and organizations not just endure difficulties, but overcome them. We’re inspired by these stories and want to celebrate those who have responded to challenges with innovation and creativity and have used this time as a period for growth and reinvention.
Blast From the Past
The Bel Aire Diner in Astoria, Queens was hit hard by the virus, but some creative thinking (along with steady take-out orders) has kept this New York hot spot in business. How? The addition of a drive-in movie theatre. While customers can’t come into the diner, they can pull up in the adjacent parking lot to watch classic films complete with drive-in style food service. And while food prices have been upped slightly from their usual costs, the Bel Aire Diner is donating proceeds to community members in need, according to The New Yorker. Altogether, the restaurant’s fun and innovative idea has provided entertainment for movie-goers, kept the diner up and running after more than 50 years in business, and given back to the larger community.
A Win-win in the Kitchen
Chicago cooking school Get in the Kitchen hasn’t been able to host classes while quarantine restrictions limited in-person interactions. So, it turned its space into a kitchen for furloughed chefs through the Furloughed Chefs Pick-Up Program. Each week, Get in the Kitchen partners with chefs who are temporarily out of work, providing them room to cook weekly menus that can be delivered or picked up by Chicagoan food lovers. From three course meals to cocktail kits, the Furloughed Chef program allows top-notch gourmands to continue making amazing food while also supporting Get in the Kitchen — a winning partnership for all involved.
More than 36 million Americans have lost their jobs as a result of coronavirus-induced layoffs, furloughs, and business closures. New Jersey-based Caitlin Duffy was one of them. To fill some time, she decided to break out some leftover candlewax from gifts she’d made for her family — and, after putting out a call to her community, began selling dozens of homemade candles to neighbors, friends, and beyond. Now, after receiving a full-time job offer, Caitlin continues to sell candles on her Etsy shop, Caitlin’s Candles, as a side-hustle.
Restaurant Pause and Pivot
Chain or local, big or small, restaurants everywhere have been affected by stay-at-home orders in numerous ways. With fewer customers and a pause on dine-in service, many have had to rethink their business models from the ground up. One such restaurant is The Scullery Coffee House and Creamery, a locally loved small business in Greenville, N.C.
According to the Daily Reflector, The Scullery had to close its doors for three weeks, as well as let go of several staff members as the owners rethought how to move forward. Upon opening again, the business pivoted to selling grocery items like eggs, milk, bread, and coffee, plus daily, affordable family-style meals — making it a reliable option for grabbing those food items than can be tough to find in uncertain times. And although the dining room was closed temporarily, the friendly and helpful spirit of the café never waned. While it may not be business as usual, The Scullery has continued to serve both food and a sense of community to the people who’ve supported it through ups and downs.
Since gyms and boutique fitness studios have closed their doors, trainers, coaches, and instructors across the country have had to get creative. Lately, living room Pilates classes, martial arts lessons, and Zoom workouts have become the norm for people like Katy Winter, Jordan Schreiber, and Randy Myers, according to the Chicago Tribune. All three are California-based fitness instructors who are now reaching clients via video — and instead of having to drown out the sound of weights clanking or footsteps on nearby treadmills, pets and lawn mowers now make up the typical exercise ambiance.
While improvisation has been critical to making certain workouts happen at home, these instructors have found that Zoom workouts aren’t all bad. Many are even able to reach a wider audience than they could in a traditional gym or studio setting. And as for the people taking classes? The freedom and comfort of exercising without others watching has led many, like Maura Smith who participates in Myers’ classes, to try new things and expand their journey into (Zoom) group fitness.
The unforeseen circumstances of this year have led to a lot of unknowns. But the challenges have also led to new levels of creativity, thoughtfulness, and community across the country. Industries, businesses, and individuals of all kinds have risen to the occasion and shown that change isn’t all bad — and can be an opportunity to explore new passions, build partnerships, and provide lessons in growth and resiliency.
- Have you ever reinvented your career? How?
- What’s the best advice you’ve received during a tough time?
- How have you seen people and business be more creative this year?
Let us know in the comments below.