Friendly Service and Innovation – Will it be enough to save food service?

Joey's Only
Joey's Only for Fish and Chips

Stats Show up to 60% of Restaurants Face Serious Challenges

THUNDER BAY – The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting business hard. According to Statistics Canada, up to 60 percent of Canada’s restaurants are at risk of having to close their doors permanently by November.

These startling statistics have the Canadian Chamber of Commerce very concerned. Through the ‘Our Restaurants’ campaign Boston Pizza stands with our fellow competitors big and small in highlighting the critical and urgent support needed to sustain the restaurant industry and the many Canadians it employs through the debilitating impacts of the pandemic,” says Jim Treliving, the Chairman and Founder of Boston Pizza.

The famous Hoito Finn pancakes are a classic favourite at Thunder Bay's 100 Year Old Hoito Restaurant
The famous Hoito Finn pancakes were a classic favourite at Thunder Bay’s 100-Year-Old Hoito Restaurant until the RBC pulled the pin.

Thunder Bay has seen some closures, the iconic Hoito Restaurant has closed. There are concerns that despite the best efforts of owners and staff, depending on what happens with the pandemic that more restaurants will face challenges. As the weather cools, and outdoor patios are no longer an option, the social distancing in restaurants will require, if still in place, fewer seats in restaurants which will result in lower sales potential.

Innovation and Friendly Service

Here in Thunder Bay, innovation has fueled success for many companies.

Bay Village Coffee took to having some amazing car service with their coffee, muffins and cold beverages and getting their friendly staff engaged safely with customers.

Popular restaurant Joey's Only on Arthur Street has adapted opening a patio for their guests
Popular restaurant Joey’s Only on Arthur Street has adapted opening a patio for their guests

Joey’s Only on Arthur Street put together what is arguably one of the best outdoor patios in the city, combine that with friendly service and great food, and this is helping keep this local company going.

Joey's Only
Joey’s Only for Fish and Chips

The Hub on Victoria Avenue East is installing a takeout window.

New Touchless Window at The Hub on Victoria Avenue East being installed
New Touchless Window at The Hub on Victoria Avenue East being installed

This will be open to all customers in the business incubator in the Fort William BIA.

Wild Thyme, who make arguably one of the best wraps in the city is sure to benefit from this innovation.

There are many companies doing everything they can to keep their doors open. It is one of those issues that time will tell how successful they will be.

The Canadian Survey on Business Conditions (CSBC), produced by Statistics Canada with support from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, found that 29% of accommodation and food service businesses cannot operate at all with social distancing measures in effect. A further 31% will only able to remain operational for up to 90 days with distancing measures in effect. In other words, up to 60% of the industry could fail within three months.

These figures are even more troubling when you consider the jobs already lost. When COVID hit, 83% of businesses in the accommodation and food services industries temporarily closed and two-thirds were forced to lay off some staff, including almost a quarter that was forced to lay off all their staff. According to Restaurants Canada, the foodservice industry lost 800,000 jobs.

While many restaurants opened for take-out or delivery only, they then were paying out significant fees to delivery services, those costs made it hard to remain profitable.

The study reports that “While the economy is now slowly beginning to recover, to date the federal government has not offered help tailored to the needs of the hardest-hit industries like food services, which will take a long time to recover. That’s why the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and 15 foodservice businesses, representing more than 60 brands, is today launching the ‘Our Restaurants’ campaign.”

“We need to act now. Across Canada, our restaurants are where we meet for business or pleasure, where we got our first job and where our families spend a night out. Simply put, our restaurants are cornerstones in our communities,” said Hon. Perrin Beatty, President, and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “The ‘Our Restaurants’ campaign underscores the urgent need for Canadians – both the public and our governments – to come together to support these businesses in their time of need.”

“We can all make a difference. Canadians need to observe safety measures while also starting to resume our normal lives, including being able to go out for a meal. Everyone also needs to remind their elected representatives of the importance of our restaurants in our lives,” concluded Beatty.