It was only a matter of time before Jeff and Jennifer Kondrat bought their own establishment and got back in the kitchen. The married couple, who are both Red Seal Chefs, purchased Gourmet Café and have set about trying to take the business to the next level. “We had been in food distribution working for two large companies in Canada the past 12-13 years,” Jeff says. “Jennifer left earlier than me to get back in the kitchen, buying half of Gourmet Café in April of 2018. I bought the other half in 2019. We knew we’d eventually run into a deal we couldn’t turn down and we got lucky that we found a nice profitable business.”
Gourmet Café is a high-end catering service that serves mainly the Sarnia-Lambton area doing baptisms, communions, weddings, and the like. “When I started in 2019 things were still very busy and their numbers were very consistent year to year,” Jeff says. “We have our own banquet space here that seats 160, so it was really busy. And then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and we had to do a 180, so we pivoted and started doing family meals.” Gourmet Café started offering family meals where customers could order a minimum of four meals. “It has gone really well. It kept us afloat. The blessing in disguise is we kind of ended up with a new business because of COVID.”Since taking over Gourmet Café, Jeff and Jennifer have placed a high priority on growing the business through social media. “When we bought Gourmet Café, they had basically no social media,” Jeff says. “We believe in today’s day and age you need social media and now we have a decent following on Facebook and Instagram. Now we have another 3,000 people in our area who know who we are aside from the businesses that worked with us before.” The couple's upon purchasing Gourmet Café was to grow the business. “I would like to add food trucks to our services so we can cook onsite for various events." Gourmet Café cooks all their meals from scratch, making it difficult to travel further than an hour away while maintaining the quality they expect. "With a food truck or two so we can start catering further away and ensure great food wherever we go."Gourmet Café started with a strictly Italian offering but has since expanded to serving Middle Eastern, Greek, Turkish, Thai, and Chinese cuisine. Jeff and Jennifer are also changing the way they serve customers by offering frozen prepared meals. “People can take our food home and have home-cooked meals kept in the freezer,” Jeff says. Offering freezer meals is a way for Jeff and Jennifer to continue to offer delicious family meals to the customers they gained during the pandemic while meeting the needs of other areas of their business. "Whether it's in our banquet hall, at a venue, or around your family dinner table, it's our goal to serve gourmet food."