Due to this week’s scary COVID numbers and even more frightening forecasts, indoor dining in restaurants is closed until we get the situation under control – which could be a while. Meanwhile, many of our local restaurants are experiencing extreme hardship, and more than a few are in danger of closing forever.
These are mostly small, independent, or family-run places. For them, going out of business means much more than losing a job. In many cases, they also lose something they love, their life savings, and everything they’ve worked hard for over many years.
The federal government has announced extensions of, and improvements to, wage subsidy and rent relief programs. These will provide much-needed help but have not yet been approved by Parliament, so that struggling businesses have not yet received any of the new funding. The Provincial and City governments have also offered some assistance, but much of that doesn’t take effect until 2021.
Our local restaurants need our support to get through the winter, after which they can presumably resume outdoor service and, hopefully, COVID vaccinations may gradually bring an end to this pandemic.
If you want to support our local restaurants, here are some of my suggestions:
If you are among the fortunate ones whose income has stayed intact, try to spend as much money on takeout as you were previously spending on dining in and takeout. The takeout experience is not quite the same as indoor dining but we want our favourite restaurants to still be around when we’re able to go out again.
Order extra to freeze for another night or give to a neighbour or person in need. Acts of kindness are especially heartwarming while we are all having a difficult time of one kind or another.
Try something new. Willowdale has a wonderful variety of food choices. Experience a new restaurant or, better still, a new culture.
If possible, pick your meal up rather than having it delivered. Most people don’t realize how much some delivery companies charge the restaurant you order from. Avoid companies like Uber Eats, which takes up to 30% of each purchase from restaurant owners. Skip the Dishes has reduced its standard rate from 20% to 15% commission. DoorDash has the lowest standard commission rates of 10% and is waiving delivery fees for customers who spend more than $25 at local restaurants in Toronto; in addition, the company is waiving fees for 30-60 days for new restaurants that sign up and is offering free delivery every Wednesday during winter months. Some restaurants use other reasonably-priced services, or handle their own delivery.
All restaurants should have protocols for safe pickup, and some will let you pay over the phone and then bring your order out to your car, if you ask.
Send me some of your own takeout tips and recommendations and I’ll try to let people know about them.