“There was no time to wallow”
How the duo behind Orangeville’s Lavender Blue Catering are keeping Dufferin fed.
Terry Doel and I started Lavender Blue in 2013. Le Finis opened in late 2019 as our front entrance, with Parisian pastries, cheeses and cocktails.
On March 15 we decided together with our staff that we would close. The staff felt uncomfortable serving customers, even if just for takeout. Their opinions matter and we listened.
That day was like being in a dream. We automatically fell back on our frozen entrées and started a social media campaign to let people know we were keeping the freezers stocked and taking orders for delivery.
In mid-April we took stock and reflected on events happening around us. We felt a sense of loss, of community and all the firsts for Le Finis we’ll be missing, including the Orangeville Blues & Jazz Festival, Celebrate Your Awesome and Mother’s Day.
Emails from our wedding couples started pouring in. (We did 30 weddings last year.) By May 1, I was recommending most weddings be postponed until 2021. We try hard not to feel overwhelmed thinking about financial losses. I wonder how long the government programs will sustain us and others in the same predicament.
There was no time to wallow. Thanks to a sponsor, we started feeding St. John Ambulance staff twice a day for a few weeks. We took a job at an alcohol rehabilitation facility near Erin early in the pandemic because their chefs both had Covid-19. Heather Hayes, executive director of the Orangeville Food Bank, needed extra hands and trucks to get the Dufferin Food Share up and running – we called in some great friends. School closures meant the food bank had no more frozen meals made by students in Westside Secondary School’s excellent culinary program. With financial donations from community members and Highlands Rotary we keep them stocked.
We began feeding Dufferin paramedics and the night shift at Headwaters Health Care Centre weekly, thanks to our sponsors Paul and Joan Waechter. Our Dufferin community is the most important thing and I think we have really managed well during all this.
In May, Terry and I were able to spend more time with our families. Le Finis reopened for takeout mid-June. Like us, most business owners on Broadway had to lay off staff and run things alone. Without community support no one would be here, but these passionate entrepreneurs are tired. So if they need a couple of days off, don’t be upset. They need to recharge.
It is crucial now to support local businesses. We’re hoping to keep the rent paid and the lights on – so that when this is over there will still be great restaurants, salons and stores to visit.
As told to Tralee Pearce. This interview was condensed and edited.
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