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Adaptation = Resilience

By News

Updates on three New Hampshire businesses that have successfully adapted to challenges posed by the pandemic.

With so many businesses in New Hampshire and beyond staggering under the weight of COVID restrictions and concerned consumers, we thought we’d check in on three companies we’re working with to see how they’re doing.

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Lou’s Restaurant & Bakery, Hanover

Lou’s appears to be an exception in the restaurant industry—a household brand in the Upper Valley with a very strong and reliable customer base that continues to support it through this challenging time.

With funding assistance from the state’s Main Street Relief Fund and the federal PPP program, Lou’s owners Jarett and Cailin Berke have made multiple adaptations to keep their business strong.

Early on, they added takeout and delivery service, including family-size meals. Revenue from to-go food increased 150% from 2019 to 2020, while strict cost control and budgeting lowered Lou’s fixed expenses by 10%—despite a sharp increase in costs for takeout containers.

They’ve also changed Lou’s hours and staffing levels. “By staying open later and offering a quick-service dinner menu without increasing labor, we have been able to stave off the losses we would have felt with the decrease in breakfast and lunch business,” Jarett said.
Lou’s is looking more and more like a Main Street survival story.

MamaSezz, Keene and Brattleboro, VT

Our Vested for Growth business investment team made an investment in this heat-and-eat plant-based meal business in February 2019. Since then, Community Loan Fund staff have been active members of MamaSezz’s advisory board, and we made a second investment last year to help its owners build out its website and public relations campaign.

Not only has MamaSezz continued to operate, but the company maintained all staff, and supported them by providing grocery staples to minimize their grocery store trips. MamaSezz also partnered in Brattleboro, VT with Everyone Eats!, a restaurant stimulus and community food effort that was distributing 850 meals a day at the end of 2020.

Contoocook Creamery, Hopkinton

Our 2017 loan, with Farm Credit East, enabled Contoocook Creamery, a multi-generation family farm, to build a milk bottling plant at the farm. The farm had been trucking milk out of state to be processed and bottled, and the family realized having a plant on-site would decrease transportation costs and improve production and quality.

When the bottling plant came online in May 2019 the owners expanded their distribution beyond mom-and-pop stores, farm stands, and local Hannaford stores, to restaurants and schools in greater Concord. The creamery also added three employees.

With Farm Credit East, we customized technical assistance plan for the creamery, which helped the family develop a budget, conduct financial analysis, establish benchmarks, and improve its financial reporting.

When the pandemic hit the state last March, some grocery stores needed to discontinue accepting the creamery’s glass bottles and asked the creamery to provide its products in plastic containers. The family had planned while building the plant for the bottling line to be able to accommodate half-gallon and quart-size plastic containers, so a quick switch to recyclable plastic was feasible. This pivot enabled the creamery to place its milk in other retail stores and increase its sales, despite losing restaurants and schools orders due to the pandemic.

Want to help businesses like these succeed? Please consider donating to the Community Loan Fund . Your gifts supply training and technical assistance to businesses and nonprofits across New Hampshire.

Learn more about the businesses we support , on our Impact Stories page.