Kayak Cafe soups up its business plan

Meal delivery has doubled restaurant’s revenue

Karen Deaton Perry delivers a soup combo from Kayak Cafe. (Oct. 28, 2019) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times
Karen Deaton Perry serves customers at Kayak Cafe. (Oct. 28, 2019) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

Karen Deaton Perry was a little nervous about keeping Kayak Cafe open through winter, when many other eateries close their shutters.

However, hot soup has helped soothe Deaton Perry’s concerns. Offering customers delivery of soup and other items has doubled Kayak Cafe’s revenue since September, she said.

“It’s a lifesaver for our business, is what it is,” Deaton Perry said. “We weren’t doing badly, but we’re doing awesome now.”

Deaton Perry and her husband, Trenton Perry, opened Kayak Cafe in May. Since then, the restaurant has been in a continual state of experimentation and evolution, briefly closing after just three months to remodel the kitchen. The most recent addition to the restaurant’s menu is crème brûlée, which Trenton Perry caramelizes with a propane torch.

Kayak Cafe offers delivery around Cordova for a fee of $2. One of the restaurant’s most popular deals is a combo of soup, a bread and a dessert for $13, plus delivery. Soups range from staples like tomato accompanied by a grilled cheese sandwich to tortilla soup accompanied by a quesadilla. Deaton Perry’s most popular soup so far has been a Thai coconut curry accompanied by a spring roll, she said. The restaurant announces the soup of the day ahead of time to patrons via the “Kayak Cafe Delivery” Facebook group.

Most deliveries are made within a few blocks of Kayak Cafe, to workers who don’t want to break for lunch. The employees of Cordova Electric Cooperative probably hold the record for most soup ordered, Deaton Perry said.

Karen Deaton Perry delivers a soup combo from Kayak Cafe. (Oct. 28, 2019) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times
Karen Deaton Perry delivers a soup combo from Kayak Cafe. (Oct. 28, 2019) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

Deaton Perry delivers soup in Mason jars which customers later return — in theory, at least. In practice, the jars accumulating up in some local offices have occasionally compelled Deaton Perry to shut down deliveries until more can be purchased from Amazon. Of the $2 delivery fee, about 50 cents goes toward replacing unreturned jars.

Kayak Cafe is currently working on an incentive system that could give customers credit toward future purchases in exchange for returning jars.

Tucked away on Second Street, Kayak Cafe has struggled to get the word out about its existence. Though Deaton Perry is a keen user of social media, some residents who don’t use Instagram or Facebook have remained oblivious of the restaurant’s existence. Nonetheless, the restaurant’s overall patronage has risen by 15 percent since summer, she said. At this point, Deaton Perry is optimistic that winter will treat Kayak Cafe well.

“I’ve gotten a lot of people come in who say they try to go out more in the fall just to support our businesses,” Deaton Perry said. “People are so good to us and the other businesses.”