Like everyone else, COVID has had a tremendous impact on our daily lives. With the second wave of COVID washing over much of Canada further restrictions have and will continue to be implemented on the public. These second wave restrictions have hit the restaurant industry particularly bad. The sudden closure of dine-in options has put the survival of restaurants into question. Rising costs of operation, lower foot traffic, and a multitude of other factors are to blame.
To understand the whole story you need to go back to March of this year where the restrictions due to COVID first began. This was the first of the impacts on the restaurant industry, disallowing dine-in options, severely curing down on the number of patrons. Soon following this increased restrictions were imposed forcing increased precautions such as barriers and increased cleaning requirements. On top of the cost of implementing these government mandates, restaurants faced the trouble of simply finding contractors to put in these additions. The sudden massive demand made it near impossible for restaurants to restart operations on time. Once restaurants were able to make these new changes the battle was not done. Supply chain issues quickly followed, causing issues not only on the restaurant side but on the supplier side as well. Suppliers faced issues of excess supply, as no farm or slaughterhouse expected the pandemic. Huge quantities of food were forced to be wasted. Potato farms in Idaho were forced to bury tons upon tons of potatoes marked to be sold to restaurants. Slaughterhouses faced mass outbreaks of COVID within their facilities on top of issues of excess supply. On the restaurant end, chefs were unable to offer the same variety they wished, leaving some customers unhappy. Finding staff was also an issue with the implementation of CERB, individuals were not motivated to work as the money earned working limited hours was often less than what the government was offering. Following this a glimmer of hope shone through, the virus started to slow and the government moved to phase 3. Restaurants and gyms began to open allowing for limited socially distanced seating. This brought increased customer traffic helping restaurants cover costs. Though this was short-lived as this takes us to the present day.
The overall economic issues of COVID have been devastating, causing mass layoffs and countless establishments to close. Looking at restaurants in general it is estimated that 60% of restaurants are unable to operate with the measures imposed. As bills continue to rise with limited to no profits restaurants will undoubtedly continue to close. Evidence of these can be seen all around us, many large corporations such as Starbucks have already committed to shutting down as many as 200 stores. This proves to be very telling, if massive companies with millions in reserves have figured it's not economical to function, small independent businesses are even worse off. Government assistance programs proved to slow the flow of business closures but are not a fix. According to the Chamber of Commerce, 60 percent of restaurants could fail within 3 months. This is attributed to the thin margins restaurants operate under, reducing the number of tables then made profits near impossible.
From this, it is clear action must be taken. Canadian restaurants employ roughly 1.2 million Canadians. As a society, we must find a way to keep this industry alive. Food delivery options such as UberEats or Skip the Dishes could be part of this solution. Though this can be put into question as the processing fees are outrageous at times. According to some restaurants, fees to operate with UberEats can reach as much as 30%, allowing restaurants to recoup the majority of their costs but unfortunately make no money. In response to these outcries, the Ford Government has stepped in leaving on food delivery apps to lessen their fees due to the pandemic. Both UberEats and Skip the Dishes have responded favorably to this request and are to release new pricing structures soon.
In the meantime, restaurants have no choice but to batter down the hatches and hope to ride out the storm. The restaurant industry is important to all not only providing a greatly appreciated service to millions of Canadians but also a source of employment. If you have the resources to eat out and support local vendors please do.