Savory Moment’s winning recipe

Kay Conley of Savory Moment is getting by with more than a little help from her friends.

Savory Moment employee Audrey Rodriguez

Savory Moment employee Audrey Rodriguez

Kay Conley of Savory Moment is getting by with more than a little help from her friends.

Her “chef-prepared meals” business, formerly called Month of Meals, just celebrated its 10th anniversary and is rolling out a number of new features, including a gluten-free menu.

It’s somewhat miraculous, considering that in late January, Savory Moment’s sales were so slow that Conley thought she and her husband Brent would have to shut their doors.

“Instead of throwing in the towel, I asked my husband to give me a few more weeks before ending 10 years of hard work and passion,” she wrote in an e-mail to the Redmond Reporter.

She swallowed her pride and contacted everyone she knew. How old and new customers rallied to save Savory Moment reminded Conley of the final scene in the classic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

We sat down with Conley to ask how she let people know about her dire straits. It can’t have been easy to beg for business.

“I sent out an e-mail, asking for help, outlined what we were doing to try to improve business and trim expenses,” she matter-of-factly replied.

A big push was made to tap into the growing demand for gluten-free foods and others for people with special dietary needs.

“And when we changed our name, we gave out freezer bags with the new logos. We realized that we could use them to do office deliveries easier, instead of using bulky styrofoam containers,” she added.

She had noticed when the price of gas skyrocketed last year, people were making fewer shopping trips or taking the bus instead of driving. Bringing food to them, at their workplace, could make a difference in her sales, Conley figured out.

“We’ve made in-roads with many companies and also the Microsoft Passport (Web site). We’ve been really blessed with the reaction. ‘Here’s what we’re doing and here’s how you can help.’ We asked people to invite their co-workers and people in their networking groups to check us out. We’re lucky that a couple key customers at Microsoft got us hooked up with their lists for new parents and other groups. When your friend or co-worker recommends you, it has impact,” she said.

Conley’s customer service employees have been supportive, as well. When their hours were cut back, some agreed to trade part of their wages for food.

Getting through this economic crisis has been all about “focusing on grassroots and letting people know how their actions can make an immediate difference,” she explained.

“Some people have been with us for years — they have a relationship with people here, but they also are dependent on us for meals.’”

Not everyone likes to cook or has the time or the know-how, but most people want to eat well and want to know what is in the food that they are eating, she said.

At a Savory Moment open house from noon-4 p.m. Sunday, March 29, Conley will offer samples of gluten-free food and advice from some medical professionals. Her gluten-free menu for the month of March features entrees ranging from Apple Brandy Glazed Pork Tenderloin to Cioppino (Seafood Stew) and Ginger Lime Mahi, plus side dishes such as Brown Basmati Rice, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Venetian Vegetable Blend with Lemon Herb Butter. She’ll have new items on her April menu so customers won’t get bored with the same meals over and over.

“One out of 133 Americans has celiac disease and many don’t even know it,” Conley noted. “Or there are those who are gluten-intolerant. … We have created a relationship with a bakery from Vancouver, Washington for gluten-free breads, muffins and pizza crusts. We also have a local cake baker (Cake Fixation) to make gluten-free birthday cakes so kids with dietary issues don’t have to feel left out.”

Savory Moment’s regular menu also points out which meals contain dairy, eggs, nuts, soy, seafood or wheat — and indicates which foods are “light,” deriving 30 percent or less calories from fat.

To learn more about Savory Moment, stop by during guest shopping hours, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday or 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday; call (425) 867-1516; or visit Savory Moment is located at 18005 NE 68th St., Suite A-115 in Redmond.

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