SOME BUFFALO COMPANIES ARE TAKING IT "BEYOND TAKEOUT" THIS HOLIDAY SEASON, and giving families things to do together at home. — With restrictions on many companies in Erie County's Orange Zone, many small businesses have turned to take out. This holiday season, some are even taking it a step further to attract customers, and give them something to do with their families while they're at home.
Rosalie Caruso owns Buffalo Cake Pops on Chandler Street.
When asked about the holiday season, she said, "We just have pivoted everything!"
Caruso is still offering her perfectly decorated cake pops and cookies, but this year she's lost the in-person business that made up so much of her holiday season.
"I mean we must have done like 20 classes in December last year. It was crazy," she said.
The same is true for Buffalo's Hotel Henry. The hotel's 100 Acres restaurant is missing the slew of holiday parties typically held by neighbors and local companies.
"We were looking at how people were foregoing their holiday parties, or they were foregoing their brunch with girlfriends or their dinner with family and we realized there was still a need for celebration," explained Hotel Henry partner Diana Principe. "There was still a need to create a festive atmosphere at home."
So this year, the restaurant is offering what its calling holiday Graze boxes. They're sweet and savory options that are designed to be picked up, unpacked, and enjoyed at home. The boxes cost between $55 - $145, depending on which box you choose, and how many people it serves. The restaurant is also making it easy for customers to send the boxes as a gift. The gift recipient will choose the best date and time to pick up the box, so that minimal coordination is needed.
Caruso is still selling some of her popular desserts, but she's transitioned her in-person cookie and cake pop decorating classes to a take-home option. She's selling kits with everything families need to make them together at home.
"I still need that personal connection," she laughed. "So for every kit we give out I film a video, so people can still watch what I'm doing. I think that's the thing I really miss the most. I miss people coming in, and just interacting with them."
The cake pop kits cost about $22.50 per kit, and she's offering Christmas tree and reindeer cake pop kits. The cookie decorating kits cost between $23 - $25 per kit, depending on which one you choose. You can pick them up during certain business hours at Caruso's storefront on Chandler Street in Buffalo.
Along with helping small businesses, the take-home boxes and kits are giving families something to do together this holiday season.
"I know people are Zooming with friends and family and doing the kits together that way," said Caruso.
"You decorate it with your fresh greenery, you decorate it with candlelight, and then you enjoy it," echoed Principe, speaking about the Graze boxes. "It becomes an activity. But a simple activity. Everything is done for you."
In year that's been anything but simple, the companies are hoping take home options will both help their bottom line, and add some cheer.
"Everyone needs to think of a new way to celebrate at home, and to bring some of that joyousness into their holiday with something just a little special," said Principe.
"Like everyone else. Making different memories this year," said Caruso.
Other local businesses taking it "Beyond Takeout" this year:
Cookies & Cream - 2114 Seneca Street, Buffalo
The ice cream store is offering "The Cookies & Cream Home Experience" - you get four cookies to bake at home, and your choice of any pint of ice cream, so you can make your own ice cream cookie sandwiches!