The restaurant industry is essential to New York City’s social and economic fabric. From small, family-owned restaurants and food carts to four-star world-famous establishments, the City abounds with restaurants that offer cuisines from every corner of the globe.
It’s no question that the restaurant industry has been hit very hard due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mandatory closures, stay-at-home orders, and the ability to operate at only 25% or outdoor dining only and travel restrictions have resulted in major changes to this industry. As a result, many restaurants and bars have closed their doors permanently.
Owner & Creative Designer TJ Girard, Owner & Chef Bob Spiegel, and Co-Founder Stella Rankin of Pinch Food Design reunite to revitalize catering at LIVE events in NYC Covid-19. Photo courtesy Bridget Fleming
Pinch Food Design, an innovative and groundbreaking, design and catering company, was co-founded by Bob Spiegel, TJ Girard, and Stella Rankin back in 2011. As one of New York’s top-tier catering companies for the last decade, it was a huge shock when the COVID-19 pandemic basically destroyed the food and hospitality industry.
Pinch Food Design, at its peak, would host around 30-40 parties a week at some of the sexiest venues in NYC: MoMA, The Glasshouse, Skylight Modern, and catered for some of the biggest celebrity clients in New York.
After the pandemic hit in March 2020 and clients started cancelling events, the catering industry grinded to a halt. But instead of waiting for things to go back to 'normal', Pinch Food Design owners, Spiegel and Girard kept on innovating. They pivoted fast and launched a virtual event solution to keep up with the mass switch to online events.
Pinch launched their new, fully sustainable, zero waste product, Parcel, which was designed to consciously eliminate waste with curated design pieces meant as keepsakes along with, zero waste food and beverage to experience while attending virtual conferences. The parcels are packaged in zero waste rice trays and wrapped with customizable swing-handle linens.
If the restaurant industry has been hit so hard, then why are we seeing people return to this industry and even choosing now to open new restaurants now? People like Rankin, who was on a 2-year sabbatical, is back in catering post-COVID and teamed back up with Pinch Food Design co-founders, Renowned NYC catering Chef, Spiegel and Designer, Girard to once again reshape the evolving catering and food industry.
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While a mere two-year break from the industry might not seem like much, it is a big deal to re-enter the industry that has been hit the hardest coming off the heels of the year-long pandemic.
"I saw what Bob and TJ were doing and how important it was to keep on evolving and growing despite the challenges, and I was inspired.” says Rankin, Founding Partner at Pinch Food Design. "To be able to stay in business through a pandemic and still being able to come out on the other side, says something special about the industry; it says something special about Pinch,".
With all this upheaval, it might seem more straightforward just not to come back to hospitality. But not for Rankin, a woman seemingly as gregarious as she is efficient and driven. "Now more than ever is a time to innovate, to design functional yet beautiful serving solutions so we can gather together and be safe," she said. "The end of an era is only the introduction to a new. We have an opportunity now to reach a greater level of food and beverage innovation and service than ever before. I thrive on activity. I thrive on challenges, and entertaining has always been a way of life to me. Pinch Food Design is home, and I look forward to the opportunity to usher in clients and old customers back safely to catered events.”
Check back monthly for a new blog post from Stella Rankin with Pinch Food Design.