TAMPA, Fla.—Many small businesses in the Tampa Bay area are still on the rebound during the COVID-19 crisis. The Super Bowl is providing some lucky businesses unique opportunities to get in on the big game, including a Tampa bakery.
For small business owners Kirby and Kristina Lavallee, serving up something sweet during the pandemic hasn’t come without challenges.
“We had to learn to kind of step out of our comfort zones, learn new tricks and trades really quick,” said Kirby.
The husband and wife own The Cake Girl, a Tampa bakery often dreaming up creative and eye-catching desserts. Their business was selected to participate in the Business Connect program, a program that creates opportunities for local diverse businesses to compete for Super Bowl contracts and provides professional networking and development programming for all member businesses.
ABC Action News is told Business Connect received a little over 1,200 applications, and just over 200 businesses were selected to participate.
“After we got accepted into the program, we were able to bid on jobs as they became available by the NFL,” said Kirby.
The owners soon found out they’d been awarded a contract. The Lavallees say they’ll be catering the NFL TikTok tailgate, an event for hundreds of healthcare heroes headlined by Miley Cyrus. The Cake Girl is set to make 3,500 individually packaged desserts.
“We’re going to do an overnighter Friday so everything is fresh,” said Kristina. “To me, it means the world. I mean the Super Bowl happens every year, but it doesn’t happen in your city every year. So to get selected and to be able to do desserts for such a big event, it’s the best.”
The couple says the opportunity isn’t about the money, but rather the experience and helping put their small business on the map. They encourage other business owners to set their sights to Super Bowl levels, too.
“When we first looked at it, we were like, ‘Oh my gosh, the NFL. Is that even possible to work with the NFL?’ But we set our sights on it, we did it, and now we’re going,” said Kirby.