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Event business struggle during COVID-19

With COVID-19 shutting down everything during spring and into the summer, 2020 weddings have not been what brides and their vendors have imagined.

Many event-based businesses have taken a massive hit during the pandemic. With everyone encouraged to limit gathering and keep a distance, businesses have done what they can to stay afloat.

The Catering Place has catered many events in Suffolk. They are known for their flexible menus and many connections. Now, owners Corey and Jnel Duncan are doing all they can to keep going.

“This has hit us drastically,” said Jnel Duncan. “We went from doing five to six weddings a month to nothing. We are nowhere close to where we should be this time of year.”

The Catering Place has been able to cater to smaller gatherings during this time, but those have been few and far between. Mother’s Day brunch and Easter lunch orders were available for pick up to give the business a chance to stay ahead.

“We are some of the lucky ones,” said Duncan. “We have had great support from friends, family, past brides, and future couples we are working with.”

Now the question has risen of what catering will look like once things start back up. The Catering Place is unsure whether it will continue its usual buffet style with the food intricately laid out. Duncan said she would see what the guests are comfortable with and be even more flexible with each order.

The Catering Place partners with other local businesses to fully service events, including Sugar Bottom Bakery.

“Cakes are my bread and butter,” said Christian Crowder, owner of Sugar Bottom Bakery. “When your business relies on large events, it hits hard.”

For three months, there were no orders for anything. With limits on going outside and gathering, even birthday cakes were not ordered.

Crowder was able to work with The Catering Place in doing a few smaller events. Luckily with Phase 3 increasing the gathering limit to 250 people, things are starting to move forward.

“We’ve had some conversations with couples about rescheduling and new dates,” said Crowder. “Everything is starting to get back to normal, but people are still stuck with so much unknown still out there.”

Music Makes You Happy Entertainment also has felt the effects of COVID-19. It is a company that provides DJs, emcees, specialty lighting and photo booths. Its last scheduled event was March 1. With April and May being two of the most significant months of the year for its business, the entertainment company took a devastating hit. Once June opened the possibility of having small gatherings of 50, it did a few graduation parties.

“It has definitely been interesting,” said owner and founder Chris Rice. “Luckily, July will be busy, and that will help us start to get back to where we should be.”

Rice also mentioned that their availability for summer and fall is quickly filling up. Those who are planning on rescheduling need to do so as soon as possible.

“I will be happy when things go back to normal and everyone can get back together to celebrate again,” said Crowder.