Things have been shaking and baking lately at Catalyst Restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It's a much different scene from a year ago when the coronavirus pandemic forced the restaurant to lay off staff and limit serving its customers.
That got owner and chef William Kovel to look for ways to keep the flame burning, especially during holidays like Thanksgiving.
"Families weren't together and they wanted to cater to people they weren't seeing," said Kovel.
Catalyst, like many restaurants across the nation, had to shift its business to online ordering and catering. They served pre-ordered meals to 75 customers last Thanksgiving.
"It's a really beautiful way to spend time with your loved ones, rather than spending time in the kitchen,” he said.
“Me and my wife like to spend more time with the kids so, if we could have a place such as this cook a meal for us that would be great,” said customer Chris Massero.
Catalyst wants to repeat the formula. But as business recovers, other challenges such as supply chain issues and worker shortages have prevented workers from taking a break.
"Working 16 hours a day, six days a week, has been an extremely fun experience, but seeing family, friends, has had to go by the way side,” said Catalyst sales manager Anne Fedak.
By working the catering menu ahead of the holidays, employees at Catalyst are getting Thanksgiving and Black Friday off.
"Normally it's one of the busiest days of the year,” added Fedak.
It’s an option borne out of necessity that allows families and workers to enjoy the holidays while keeping the business afloat.
"I'm actually looking forward to Thanksgiving this year because we have a fuller staff so we won't have to work as hard. Everybody will work hard but it will be more of a team effort. It will be great!"
There’s a handful of other restaurants like Catalyst taking Thanksgiving pre-orders, amid the short supply of Thanksgiving food items like turkey this year.