Although restrictions are lifting across Canada, the pandemic is not over yet. COVID-19 has been devastating for many industries, with foodservice and hospitality topping that list. 410,200 Canadians are out of work as of January 2022 alone, and 13,000 permanent industry closures have been reported across Canada since the start of the pandemic. Even with restaurants returning to full capacity, many working in hospitality and foodservice still remain in a vulnerable state from continuous lockdowns. The aftershocks of long-term restrictions and closures will be felt for years to come, and will still require both government and diners’ support to keep the industry afloat.
The “REVIVE THE INDUSTRY THAT FEEDS THE NATION” campaign, launched by Restaurants Canada, featured a series of videos all geared towards painting a realistic picture of the industry’s challenges during and post-pandemic to educate consumers on the state of the industry, and the support needed to revive it. With this, Restaurants Canada continued to push to get restaurant representatives a seat at government tables to offer an inside industry perspective on creating long-term solutions that will support the foodservice industry as it rebuilds.
The campaign series showcased a cross-section of industry voices, all sharing their unique stories and offering an inside look at how COVID-19 has personally affected them and their business, and the long-term challenges they see ahead as they struggle to survive.
The video featured the perspectives of Chef La-Toya Fagon of Twist Catering, Bruce Miller, CEO of Pilot Coffee Roasters, Trevor Lui, Owner of Highbell Group, Spiros Liarakos, General Manager at Duke of Cornwall, Paul Marshall, Owner of Century Park Tavern and Donna Dooher, Owner of Mildred’s Temple Kitchen.
Although the damage has been done, the pandemic has created additional, longer-term uncertainties such as supply chain and staff shortages which reinforce the need for a rally cry of support and a robust discussion with the government regarding what is needed to ensure the survival of the industry.
“Today is not the time to starve the industry that feeds Canadians,” says Bruce Miller. “What we need from the government is proactive solutions to be able to help our industry. Even for the small percentage that do qualify [for support], it’s such a drop in the bucket compared to the over two years of debt they’ve taken on.”
Stats from the Restaurants Canada Outlook Survey showed that 71 per cent of restaurants are currently operating at loss and 11 per cent are just breaking even.
“We have accumulated a lot of debt individually and as an industry,” says Dooher. “We work on incredibly thin margins at the best of times and now we are going into even more difficult times. We continue to accumulate more debt. This is extremely problematic.”
The restrictions and closures have meant closing the doors to restaurants—from franchise systems to family-owned and operated establishments.
“It’s not like turning on a light switch. It’s going to take years of recovery for the industry to get back to where we were pre-COVID,” adds Dooher.
As the restrictions on dining capacity lift, Restaurants Canada will continue to advocate on behalf of restaurant owners, and encourage Canadians to get back into restaurants for in-person experiences.
This April, Restaurants Canada will ask businesses and consumers to participate in a #DineInDoOver all month long. Serving as an industry revival effort, the campaign will encourage Canadian consumers and businesses to come together at their favourite local restaurant, and ‘redo’ the moments they’ve missed over the last two-years. These include a do-over of birthdays, holidays, milestones, corporate celebrations, etc. that have taken place during the pandemic, but haven’t been celebrated in their entirety due to the restrictions.
To learn how you can take part in this initiative, help spread the word and get Canadians to make up for the moments they’ve missed, visit: www.DineInDoOver.ca
Learn how to capture consumer momentum by attending Marketing Your Business for Success, presented by TikTok and Inspiring Consumer Confidence through Safety, presented by Diversey and Canadian Food Safety Group at RC Show 2022. Learn more and register now: www.rcshow.com