The folks behind the Sahm’s family of restaurants — Big Lug Canteen, Half Liter BBQ and others throughout Indianapolis — have done some creative things to reinvent themselves and help their neighbors during this time, including turning some of their restaurants into marketplaces, where customers can order groceries along with a hot meal.
Indy’s Child talked to Carl Krockenberger, the director of marketing for Sahm’s, about the innovative ways that they have pivoted to connect with the community.
Your restaurants were some of the first to react after the stay-at-home orders went in place in Indy. Have you been planning something like this for a while?
We did not consider any sort of marketplace concept prior to COVID-19. We’re certainly not in the grocery store business. Thankfully, Ed Sahm [co-owner, CEO] and his son Eddie Sahm [co-owner, COO] were anticipating the community’s need for essential items provided in a safe environment prior to COVID taking us into a quarantine.
What has been the reaction to your marketplace strategy?
Without a doubt, the response was overwhelmingly positive, even while working out the kinks in the first week of launching something we’ve never done before. We received emails and phone calls from neighbors thanking us for being able to offer essentials in a safe environment. Other businesses in different industries are eager to lend their services in our efforts.
Internally, our staff has embraced the new concept as a meaningful way to stay employed and serve the community as a true labor of love. I hate to sound cliché, but the reaction is a clear definition of what unity means between neighbors. It’s amazing to see that people are acknowledging the bigger picture of the marketplace concept, and that is to continue to serve our community no matter what the method.
You make helping the community a big part of your business. Can you tell us about your work with Second Helpings?
Sahm’s Catering, Big Lug Canteen and Half Liter BBQ employees have been working to provide food at near cost to the food insecure in our neighborhoods. This would include food pantries, shelters and assisted living communities. We are currently producing 30,000+ meals per week at-cost as part of the campaign. Meals are distributed with the assistance of Second Helpings. We are able to continue to offer this service with the contributions from community members. Currently, Second Helpings is seeking additional assistance to maintain operations and meet the growing demands from the food insecure in our greater Indianapolis communities.
Can you tell us about your Health Care Sponsorship Program?
We are all in this together. Lots of people have reached out wanting to help us help others. Here’s what you can do. We have a menu for individual meals to help feed the brave men and women who are doing life-saving and critical work in this pandemic. We will make these meals for 10 to 100+ healthcare professionals per delivery. These meals can be delivered ready to eat hot, cold or ready to warm up for when they are ready to eat. They are all individually packaged. The menus are priced to just cover our food and payroll costs to get us through these times. We will keep doing all we can to provide meals to our community for as long as we can.
You can sponsor some shift meals by:
- Sending us a contribution to do a shift in the future
- Coordinating a shift meal, setting up the details with us and paying for it at that time
- Having anyone you know that would like to be on the receiving end of this to reach out to us
Visit sahms.com to learn more about Sahm’s Health Care Sponsorship Program, and to find a Sahm’s Food and Provision Marketplace near you.