During the COVID-19 pandemic, companies had to figure out how to connect remotely, network in new ways and attempt to conduct business during an unprecedented time. Van’s Kitchen, based out of Dallas, Texas, was among the many businesses that had to quickly adjust.
The 36-year-old company is a minority-, women- and family-owned and -operated business. Theresa Motter, CEO of Van’s Kitchen and her husband, Carl, CRO, run the frozen egg roll brand that was founded by her parents, Van and Kim Nguyen.
Van’s Kitchen, originally Van Oriental Food, serves 11,000 grocery and convenience stores throughout the country, according to Theresa.
“We are located in Dallas and it’s kind of in the middle of the country. So it’s great to be able to spread out from there,” she said.
The national egg roll brand comes in four flavors – chicken, pork, vegetable and most recently, chili lime chicken. Launched in 2021, it has seen “initial market acceptance,” according to Carl Motter.
The company had to test it during the pandemic but felt that many people were ready for a new flavor, especially during the mass restaurant shutdown.
“People weren’t able to go to their local Chinese food restaurant, so they were looking for something,” Theresa Motter said. “This is kind of the comfort convenience food…the chili lime chicken is a fusion between the two flavors and it adds a little space and variety and flavor to it.”
Van’s Kitchen had some difficulties navigating the all-digital world when debuting its new product. Testing wasn’t as simple as before. Getting traction in grocery outlets was just as difficult.
“It’s really, kind of for us now, a new year. Most of it was having to send it to somebody’s home and they try it,” Carl Motter said. “You know a lot of retailers have a lot going on trying to just maintain what they were doing.
“There was so much demand going through the grocery channel to keep supply chains going that it pushed back the adoption curve. They were just trying to keep basics on the shelves all the time. We weren’t an exception.”
While demand on grocery stores remains high, Van’s found that its online ordering and home deliveries increased as the company’s digital market began to expand.
“We saw significant increases in demand with COVID. With people ordering online, having it delivered to their home, that shift really does move from restaurants and from offices and from schools into convenience stores and delis,” Carl Motter explained.
“We responded in kind. We had it in the works. We just had to work around some new obstacles.”
Van’s Kitchen recently attended IDDBA where they shared egg roll samples and gave out novelty “Happy Egg Roll Day” socks in honor of National Egg Roll Day on June 10.
“To us and to so many people, egg rolls are special. We just like people to celebrate the holiday with some egg roll gear for the occasion,” Theresa Motter said.