“My love for small towns brought me to Moab,” Cinda Culton said.
Culton has been in the hospitality field for decades, working in sales and catering with larger companies in Las Vegas and Jackson Hole. Culton opened Sweet Cravings Bakery and Bistro in 2012 and, in pre-pandemic times, the cafe and coffeehouse served breakfasts, lunch and homemade baked goods.
When the pandemic hit, Culton quickly pivoted her business model to adapt to the drastically different conditions.
“In the past four months, we have adapted into a grocery store, then into an online restaurant, then built an outdoor patio to offer seating that was less risky than indoor dining,” Culton said, adding that they also created a “breakfast food trailer” outside the main store building.
Culton said guests have welcomed the to-go dining as well as other changes such as an outdoor hand-washing station and a move to only cashless payments.
Culton said the response of her business and its patrons to the challenges of the pandemic have improved already-strong operations.
“It has truly been a team effort,” she said.
The breakfast food trailer is a vintage model, compact and bright blue, situated on the side of the Sweet Cravings main building. Breakfast offerings include breakfast burritos, pastries, and fresh coffee.
Lunch may be ordered online or by phone and includes sandwiches, wraps, hot paninis and salads.
Meals may be taken “to go” or enjoyed in an outdoor patio area set up for social distancing. The menu offerings incorporate regionally grown produce and dairy, preservative-free meats, 100% Rainforest Alliance Organic Coffees, and eco-friendly containers.
The grocery service is available online with a minimum order of $25. Customers select a time slot for grocery pick up and can receive a text message when the order is ready.
Culton said the grocery option began in March when restaurants were closing to the public and local supermarkets were short on some supplies. Culton said she realized that many of the items not readily available in local stores could be obtained from the food service company used by Sweet Cravings.
“We began offering a safe alternative to...having to go inside the grocery store to shop,” Culton said.
Some items (like flour and sugar) are purchased by Sweet Cravings in bulk, then broken out of the original packaging to meet individual orders.
“Please know we have consulted with the health department and will be continuing to follow health code standards while this process is in place,” the Sweet Cravings website reads.
While supplies have since become more available in local supermarkets, Culton said “many guests still like to purchase from a small business and know that we are minimizing cross-contamination for them.”
She said Sweet Cravings can get some still-scarce products like bread yeast, as well as pre-made frozen meals like chicken pot pie or lasagna “for those looking for a safe meal they can cook at home, but not actually have to make themselves.”
Culton’s staff is taking extra precautions these days, including checking staff temperatures and oxygen levels before the start of their shifts. Staff are trained to properly implement the use of gloves, handwashing, and masks. Outgoing orders are placed under UV light to help reduce germ levels.
Supporting First Responders
Customers also have an opportunity to do a kindness for a first responder like a nurse, a park ranger, or law enforcement officer by purchasing a lunch ahead of time for the next qualified individual who comes to dine at Sweet Cravings.
“We keep the receipts and when any of our local first responders come to have lunch, we let them know that a guest already paid for their meal,” Culton said.
Culton said this promotion was inspired a few months back by several customers who asked to pay for a local officer’s meal.
“It really highlighted how much everyone just wants to give back and help others,” Culton said.
For more information, call 435-259-8983, or visit www.cravemoab.com or Sweet Cravings’ Facebook page.