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Restaurants see a boost in sales thanks to take-out

Catherine Mesly and Jake McGuire pick up take-out lunches from Never Enough Thyme owner Dierre Acheson, the meals destined for frontline healthcare workers as part of #fuelthesuperheroes campaign. [Damon Maclean]

With restaurant dining rooms closed, takeout is currently the lifeblood for eateries looking to weather the COVID-19 created storm and come out on the other side.

While takeout is a convenient way to ensure customers can get their favourite meals during a time when practicing social distancing is everyone’s full-time job, it’s not the saving grace as many restaurants have seen a dramatic loss in profits. In fact, dozens of food industry small businesses across the province have already shuttered their doors with no hopes of ever reopening again.

Restaurants that continue to remain open and serve their community are finding creative ways to attract customers and keep things fresh during this time. To help push the message that they’re still open for business, individuals and businesses interested in ensuring the success of restaurants during this time, have banded together to create the campaign #TakeoutDay with the hopes of encouraging people to order dinner from their favourite restaurants and support them during this time.

The hope of this new campaign is to give restaurants the fuel they need so they are able to pick up once things get back to normal.

 “As long as restaurants are not able to welcome us into their brick-and-mortar space to dine this is going to be necessary,” said Michelle Jobin, the spokesperson for @CanadaTakeout. “The main thing is that (the customers are) supporting their local establishment so that once this is all over, they can welcome us back because we want these businesses to stay open.”

She says it’s important to realize that of 1.2-million restaurant workers that were employed before the COVID-19 shutdown, 800,000 of them have lost their jobs.

“I heard a lot of stories of restaurateurs that were devastated by laying off 600 people across more than one location or people that are servers and bartenders that have lost their jobs,” said Jobin. “There was a lot of despair, a lot of feelings not having a lot of hope.”

Since the campaign launched she says she’s heard from many restaurants that saw a positive shift in their sales thanks to #TakeOutDay. She says there are reports of 15 to 40 per cent increases in sales, in restaurants across the country over the prior week. Some restaurants have even reported increases of 20 to 60 per cent.

Overall Jobin says the response has been positive and she hopes this continues so we can show support for local restaurants.

SkipThe Dishes, a technology company that focuses on connecting restaurants and customers through food delivery, has been adapting to the changing times and updating the way they work to support social distancing and ensure restaurants can continue to get food out.

“Within the last two weeks, Skip has expanded its national network to support social distancing and changing demand for its partners across the country,” said a company spokesperson in a release. “Skip has worked directly with governments in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario to promptly update Skip’s network to support new legislation which allows restaurants to sell alcohol with food orders. These changes are an important means to stimulate the restaurant industry and support social distancing. Canadians in those provinces can now get alcohol from their favourite restaurants through Skip.”

The spokesperson says many new types of businesses have joined Skip as a way to continue their operations including specialty grocery stores, microbreweries and others that normally only offer dine-in options.

To add something extra for those who celebrate #TakeOutDay at home, Canada’s Great Kitchen Party – Home Edition, will return with new celebrities, including Tom Cochrane and Jully Black, as they come together to celebrate the initiative and support restaurants.

The next Kitchen Party can be viewed April 29 at 8 p.m. on Facebook Live.

#TakeoutDay will continue for the foreseeable future and Jobin encourages anyone who can to support restaurants during this time.

These places have been there for us during celebratory times in our lives so it’s important that we think about them and show our support by getting takeout, be there for these places now so they can be there for us again, she said.

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