Prior to the global pandemic, Big Moe's Kitchen operated at normal hours to a normal flow of traffic.
When COVID-19 hit and executive orders mandated restaurants and bars close in-person business, it hit the Garden City business hard.
"When COVID hit, things changed. We had to cut staff and slim down to a skeleton crew to offset losses," the restaurant's owner said.
It's a narrative playing out across Michigan's food industry. When social distancing orders forced dining indoors to end, it was local eateries like Big Moe's Kitchen that felt the pinch.
That pinch has loosened in recent weeks, however. That's thanks to an application the owner sent to a marketing firm about two to three weeks ago. Qonkur Media, a Metro Detroit business had just started offering free advertising services to struggling businesses hit by the economic downfall linked to the pandemic.
Several fliers, sponsored posts online, and posters advertising curbside pick up later, and life has been breathed back into his kitchen.
"The fact that COVID shut a lot of places out - usually when something like this happens, marketing is the first to be cut. That's the exact wrong thing to do," said Mike Berro, who owns Qonkur Media. "Marketing is the most effective kind of cost for business."
Berro's firm specializes in sponsored online posts, digital billboard advertisements, website design, and other marketing practices designed to get a business's name out there. However, not that many people are looking to expense more money on advertising.
If they're Big Moe Kitchen, they didn't spend much on branding to begin with, relying instead on a steady stream of regular customers who visited the shop often. But many regulars aren't going out for food anymore, which opened a need to increase its name recognition.
Which is why Berro's firm has opened up a $100,000 marketing fund to help struggling businesses during the pandemic at no cost. At a time when more people than ever before are online, he argues there's no better time to start putting ads on the Internet.
"Instead of 20% of people online, you have literally an entire nation sitting on their phones. That's where we want to help," he said.
For any businesses interested in applying, they'll need to fill out a form here. If selected, they'll get free help with their websites, social media posts, graphic design, and videography.