SFA News Daily asked Matt Caputo of Caputo’s Market & Deli in Salt Lake City to share what innovations he’s adopted from 2020 and what he’ll strive for in the future.
How have you been connecting with consumers during a time where many of them are staying at home?
Online classes are number one. No matter the subject matter, our class experience has translated to Zoom so very well. Attendees all over the country receive the food to their doorstep. Our tasting classes are not like most and are gaining a following across the U.S. We now usually have more people from New York or California in any given class than we do from Utah. This is due to the classes giving a real education delivered in a fun (not snobby) way by seasoned and engaging instructors.
What changes that you made during 2020 are here to stay?
Quick delivery and free shipping. For our prepared food menu, we now offer online ordering and quick delivery for $5.99 with our own employees. The service is on par with DoorDash and the like, but executed with our staff who are way better trained on sanitary protocols. We can even do same day delivery of groceries for those who call in.
For groceries, we offer free shipping everywhere and our delivery times are still beating Amazon. Our prices are fair but don’t undercut other specialty retailers and our online customer service is operated by caring cheese mongers who know our product. More importantly, they give the same TLC to online customers as they would expect to get in our stores. It wasn’t easy and there is an incredible story of the sheer guts and heroism of our crew to be told, but to keep it short, let’s just say online sales are booming for Caputo’s. We are actually moving into a bigger warehouse today to accommodate this and other growth.
Social justice will also continue to be a priority in the years ahead. In the past, we have spoken out quite definitively about systemic racism and continue to do so in a very red state. We can’t just “not be racist,” we have to be actively anti-racist and renew this effort regularly. During the darkest times this year, our crew showed up for us in ways that speak to the best in human resilience and the ability to fight like hell against great odds. We will continue to fight for equality, and be the best ally we can be to our BIPOC brothers and sisters, but at the end of the day Caputo’s is just a deli. That’s a needle we can’t move much by ourselves; we need the whole industry to join in.
What else are you focusing on in 2021?
For small food makers that rely heavily on restaurants and small independent gourmet shops, artisan support bundles are a great way to stay open and gain new customers. At Caputo’s, we offer a new bundle every other week with a new theme, filled with discounted items from producers we love that need community support to survive. We have had incredible outpourings for these. Our community of food lovers in Salt Lake is so strong and are looking for ways to help. Most of the time, we provide the discounts from our margin and suppliers are grateful for the extra love. It will continue to evolve but it is definitely here to stay.
Another priority going forward will be making sure all of our employees are appropriately compensated. We have taken leaps of faith by giving raises when we are not sure we can afford it and are working on several other initiatives to make life better for our crew. While we have made great strides toward this end, we won’t stop until each and every one of them has the means to a good lifestyle, not to mention providing an incredible career path to our best and brightest. Even though we were headed in this general direction before COVID, the strength of our crew during this unprecedented time confirmed that we are doing the right thing.