A Cafe

Downtown restaurant a Café launched a physically distanced "supper club" soon after the pandemic broke in March, as well as other physically distanced food options. 

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ā Café in Boise had only been open for seven months when the pandemic hit, forcing it to close its dining room. A blow like that could have ended the business, but owner Ashley Syms stepped up to the challenge, looking for ways ā Café could remain open and serving the public. This is how Supper Club and online ordering were born.

“For me, it was always something where it was like, we have to keep cooking, we have to keep taking care of our people and we just have to get creative in how we do that,” Syms said.

Supper Club took the breakfast brunch cafe and expanded it to offering home-cooked meals to go. Customers place their order online, pick it up and take it home, where they can reheat the meal and serve it up. According to Syms, the menu for Supper Club is ever-changing and has had a long list of items since it kicked off in March. One of the things she learned through her experience is her customers prefer when the cafe keeps the menu simple, which is probably why ā Café’s chicken pot pie has been one of the club's biggest hits.

Supper Club has had many different tweaks take place since starting up. Syms said the cafe has expanded online ordering capabilities and even started offering certain menu items and salad dressings as part of a mercantile part of the business. With limited advertising, the cafe has relied on a loyal customer following and Instagram to get the word out.

“It's still a work in progress, for sure, but we've had a really good response so far. We're super excited about it,” Syms said. “I'm just super grateful to be a part of the community that we have here.”

Supper Club isn’t the only new offering the cafe has begun experimenting with. As of the week of July 27, it also offers a grab-and-go fridge where customers can run in, pick up a sandwich, wrap or other popular menu item, pay and leave. According to Syms, the fridge was started with people wanting to limit their exposure to the virus in mind. The intent is to reduce the time spent waiting in line and for food to be prepared. The items placed in the fridge are made every couple of hours to maximize freshness.

At the end of the day, Syms has tried to find the silver linings in having life and businesses turned upside down in the midst of a pandemic.

“It's good because it forces you to get creative, it forces you to get scrappy and kind of come up with new things,” Syms said.

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