This pandemic year has spun all of us in different directions. 2021 will be about picking up the pieces and getting back to something like our “normal lives”. For many small businesses, there is no going back to business-as-usual. As this one-year anniversary quickly approaches, we wanted to talk to you directly and share our experience as a business, the things we learned, where we are headed, and share some words from Matt and our team at Big Mozz. The coronavirus affected all of us in a number of unprecedented ways, and we hope that our story can create some familiarity and comfort during a time of uncertainty.
Life Before COVID-19
Big Mozz, for a while, was a stock that only went up. We had a huge 2019, and we were ready to accelerate even more in 2020. The Winter and Spring of 2020 was the buzziest time we’ve experienced as a business: we had all of the pieces in place for a ridiculous summer campaign, and we were bursting with excitement, energy and had new adventures to come. At that time, Big Mozz was known for serving at some of the greatest venues in New York City, and beyond that, we were serving at places like Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden, and Celebrate Brooklyn! in Prospect Park. We had a wonderfully growing staff of extraordinary people who were ready to bring the next chapter of Big Mozz to life. And then, along with the rest of the world, the music stopped all at once.
Challenges we Faced
The hardest thing that has happened in our company’s history was losing our team this year. After five years of growing and nurturing talent within Big Mozz and bringing in new exceptional people for our 2020 campaign, it essentially disappeared overnight. On Friday, March 13, we had five years of experience building a product and creating a company from scratch; and by Monday, it felt like we had lost everything. “We had no way to prepare, and at that time, the hardest part was that we had nothing we could do for our employees,” said our founder, Matt Gallira. It was heart-rending. Promoting our team internally, watching people grow professionally over the years, and creating a truly special feeling of community, to have it all evaporate in one weekend. And then there is our bond with our customers and our neighborhood. The nature of Big Mozz has always been very tangible, and we have tried to grow with thoughtfulness and compassion and to be a positive influence on our community. That is why we love to serve at venues like Celebrate Brooklyn!, which funds arts and music programming throughout the borough. When everything was switched to entirely virtual, we were concerned because we didn’t know how to engage with the community and to keep that feeling of hospitality and welcoming alive, which is something that we feel makes our business special. When people experience Big Mozz, we want it to feel like a big hug. So for us, the last year has been focused on keeping Big Mozz’s brand of hospitality and energy alive, without any of the ingredients we had used before.
When it became clear we would not be reopening our restaurant and music festival business for the foreseeable future, we fully embraced and tried to celebrate the fact that we have developed an amazing remote product in our virtual cooking classes. For one hour at a time, we could bring joy to friends and teams that have been separated all year. That was a hard transition to make, but we embraced it in mid-2020 with the objective of creating the best possible experience for our customers through any medium that we could reach them.
Where are we now?
The coronavirus did offer lots (and lots) of time for self-reflection. And with that came a flurry of ideas to grow and develop a more resilient Big Mozz for 2021 and beyond. We know we have a strong, well-defined brand and wonderful, dedicated customers who we can put all of our hearts and energy toward. We need to remain cautious, but we think there are plenty of reasons for optimism for the 2021 season; with great vaccine news over the last few weeks that will make it possible to get back outside and for us to start doing what we do best. When it is safe to get back out there again, we are going to be ready. In the meantime, we are getting ready to unveil some super exciting new additions to our e-commerce lineup that will help recreate the Big Mozz experience at home. If you’ve been dreaming about a Big Mozz cheese pull for the last year… stay tuned.
An Exciting Future Ahead
We have some other big announcements on the horizon, too. Our biggest events are coming back this year, and we’re working hard to get ready for those with a plan to keep our employees and customers safe in the process. When such a dramatic change occurs in an industry, “businesses need to be nimble and agile and put a plan together,” said Daniel Karsevar, who leads the Operations team at Big Mozz. Our agility would not have been possible without the endless amount of support we received from our customers. As we continue to stay resilient and pivot in a new direction, our local venue partners are starting to come to life as well. With all of the positive progression, enjoying Mozz Sticks and a beer at a baseball game may be coming sooner than you think!
To our Amazing Customers
We don’t get enough opportunities to say thank you directly to our customers and everyone who has supported us since March 2020. We would not have survived if it wasn’t for the immense support we received from you guys. Thank you, and thank you a million times over. Your encouragement, support, and friendship is invaluable and has been incredibly meaningful. As Matt says, our next chapter is “all about reconnecting with our team and our customers and the great venues and events that we serve at, and going out and kicking ass again! We are going to come back with serious energy and purpose. If you’ve missed Big Mozz or want to know what we have been up to, just know that we’ve been working our butts off behind the scenes so that the company can survive through the end of this chapter and thrive in our next one.” We hope everyone stays safe and healthy, and we’ll see you very soon.