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Pasadena Cares for Small Businesses
14 Jul 2021
For the past year, various government entities and economic development corporations have sought to provide assistance to small businesses across the country to combat the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. The Pasadena Economic Development Corporation (PEDC) was able to do that with over 165 small businesses in the Pasadena area. One of those businesses was the Ditta Meat Company, a full-line distributor of customized cuts, grinds and marinated protein products from its location in Pasadena, Texas.
“We are very thankful for the assistance from PEDC and the City of Pasadena,” said Mackenzie Ditta, Quality Assurance Manager with the Ditta Meat Company.
The company performs most of the butchering of beef, poultry, pork, lamb and game to deliver various products directly to restaurants, hotels, country clubs and hospitals in their surrounding area. Ditta is the granddaughter of Sammy Ditta, who founded the company in 1962 with a 1959 Black Panel Truck, a few garage freezers and a commitment to provide high quality customized products with exceptional customer service.
The PEDC established a $250,000 fund to create the Pasadena Cares Financial Assistance Program, with $1,000 grants being awarded to small businesses. Applicants had to have a physical storefront within the Pasadena City limits, must be registered and in good standing with the city and be willing to participate in the #Pasadena Loves Local initiative. A lottery was used to determine the businesses that would receive the grant, which never have to be repaid.
Ditta Meats was tested in 2020 unlike any other time in the company’s existence with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. The PEDC grant offered assistance while the company faced the severe loss of business. The April closure of restaurants was devastating, losing a majority of business overnight. The company quickly changed course, turning to social media campaigns, offering discounts and changing their retail offerings. Protein prices changed drastically throughout the past year, first dropping dramatically and then rising, making it difficult to keep from passing increased costs on to their customers.
“We are still working on rebuilding and business is not back to what it had been, but those adjustments have helped us make it through,” said Ditta.
In 2021, as Ditta Meats found itself with business trending towards getting back to normal, the company turned its thoughts to others in the community still struggling.
“We knew there were others hurting in our community,” said Ditta. “We are very thankful for the other small businesses in the area and wanted to help those we could.”
The company provided a donation to The Bridge Over Troubled Waters, a comprehensive crisis intervention and prevention center offering support ane safety for those experiencing domestic and sexual violence. The company is also developing a plan to assist the Salvation Army with packages of their products for those in need. An increased need became apparent with the impact of the February winter storms that impacted the area. While Ditta Meats possessed a generator to offset area power outages, the more immediate impact to their business was the loss of potable water needed to process the meat.
“We were in a tough spot for about four days until another source was found, but knew there were others in the area suffering more than we were,” said Ditta. “There is still a little more work to determine what products the Salvation Army needs, but we felt we could help the people in our area still in need of food.”
The company traces it’s Pasadena routes back several generations to the grandparents who settled there, seeing the business potential in distribution advantages located near Houston. Even though it is its own municipality, Pasadena still has a small town vibe, with gracious people who like to support local businesses instead of bigger companies, said Ditta.
“We have been around for a long time with many customers coming to us since the beginning and are so thankful we can continue to serve them,” said Ditta. “I’ve been around the company my entire life and I am proud to carry on the third-generation family business tradition of working for a great community with a great team of people.”