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SaltWire: ‘If we support women in business the whole economy does better’

Kitchen Door – owned by Patty Howard – has expanded to offer an online food shop with prepared meals, corporate drop-off catering and social drop-off catering. PHOTO CREDIT: KITCHEN DOOR CATERING


At the beginning of 2020, Kitchen Door Catering in Dartmouth was in full swing with a new 10,600-square-foot facility offering full-service, drop-off and take-home catering, cooking classes, a weekly Facebook Live show, Chit! Chat! Chop!, and a retail storefront offering prepared meals, lunch options, and more.

This dynamic company showed no signs of slowing down, but when COVID-19 hit in March 2020, Kitchen Door owner, CEO, and founder Patty Howard knew she had to make significant changes. This is when she found the Greater Heights of Growth program which helped her reset and rebuild her business.

“Just before COVID, we were really rocking and rolling. We were full-service catering, cooking classes, retail, all sorts of things, and then, of course, the pandemic hit, and we were forced to change,” says Howard.

“I was basically in start-up mode again. Catering didn’t really take place during the pandemic and there were no events or group gatherings or anything like that, so I was looking for ways to rebuild, and Greater Heights for Growth gave me the tools to do that.”

Kitchen Door opened in 2008 after Howard, a chef by training, had been working in restaurants most of her professional career and realized there was a lot of opportunity to grow as a catering business, especially with her background, skills and innovative ideas.

“I thought the market needed what I could provide,” says Howard. “There are also other entrepreneurs in my family, so I understood the idea of owning a catering business, so that’s how I started.”

Kitchen Door excels at large volume catering for special events. KITCHEN DOOR CATERING


Kitchen Door now offers an online food shop with prepared meals, corporate drop-off catering and social drop-off catering. It has also partnered with Evolve Fitness to provide healthy and delicious meal plans.

“We are a scratch kitchen, so we make all of our own broths and stocks and things like that in-house, so there’s a level of quality and consistency. I think that’s really what we’re known for,” says Howard.  “We always want to create something that people can enjoy again and again.”

Howard heard about the Greater Heights for Growth program through a connection to the program facilitator Laurie Sinclair. When Howard learned more about the program, she knew it was something that could help her business.

“At the time, I was looking for anything that could help me, and after hearing about the program, I thought this could be a really good tool for us, and so I didn’t hesitate to say sign me up,” says Howard.

The Greater Heights of Growth program is delivered by the Centre for Women in Business and is funded, in part, through the Women’s Entrepreneurship Strategy. It offers an opportunity for high growth businesses to build a foundation and infrastructure to support the scaling of profitable growth, with effective cash flow management, innovative incremental drivers of revenue with a talented team and positive culture that is aligned with a clear vision and growth roadmap.

The year-long program is delivered virtually for women entrepreneurs across Canada with revenues of more than $1 million.

“The program really strips it all back and brings you right back to the studs and business basics. It makes you think about your challenges and risks and how you can manageably grow while maintaining a solid foundation,” says Howard.

“The program really helped me see things through a new lens. It provided a mechanism for me to analyze whether certain new opportunities would make sense or be more of a liability to the business.”

The program focuses on a strategic growth plan, analyzing industry dynamics, expanding business networks, optimizing processes for efficiency, evaluating and enhancing leadership and talent, and more.

Greater Heights for Growth provides a tailored approach to each participant, giving them access to personalized one-on-one coaching from the facilitators, peer-to-peer learning that provides a supportive community, strategic growth planning and other fantastic features.

“It promotes a re-education of sorts and it provides a really good support system,” says Howard. “In my cohort, we still talk about some of the things we learned in the program, so I would say the networking and the support from other women and the foundational tools learned are really beneficial.”

Howard was always confident in her ability to create business plans and generate amazing ideas to expand her business but says the program held her accountable, which was helpful during the first part of COVID-19.

“It helped me put a plan in place and held me accountable,” says Howard.

“There was so much worry and panic in the early months, and that first year of COVID and the program brought me a little bit of peace because it forced me to create a whole new plan and gave me the tools to do it.”

“I would say it’s a great program with a great structure,” adds Howard.

“You can get many long-term relationships and an excellent foundation. I think having this type of program, specifically for women, is very helpful because if we support women in business the whole economy does better.”

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