On Nailing Tim Horton’s to the Wall and the Restaurant Industry’s Many Pre-Existing Conditions

The Intelligence Brief is our weekly compendium of food and drink news sourced from outlets all over the world, including right here at home.

Hey folks. Over the past week we have seen all levels of government continue to take steps to slow the spread of Covid-19 across the country.

In a bit of encouraging news, health officials are saying that physical distancing has prevented wider spread of Covid-19 in BC.

This doesn’t mean, however, that we are out of the woods yet. People should continue to stay home in order to keep themselves and their communities safe.

This week city council approved a motion that allows $50k fines for any businesses that fail to comply with social distancing rules — a step that will likely have little effect on the industry as most restaurants have already closed their doors.

The DTES location of Tim Horton’s, however, lost its business license on Thursday after health inspectors found them to be in violation of orders limiting the number of people permitted in a restaurant.

As everyone from servers to bartenders and dishwashers to line cooks grapple with the short- and long-term effects the pandemic might have on the industry, Bon Appetit hears from folks across the country about the impacts they’re seeing in their own communities.

“Everybody who’s acting like this virus alone blew up the hospitality industry has a limited perspective of the industry and of what’s going on globally. Covid-19 only exacerbated every issue we already had.”

Further announcements came this past week with regard to Covid 19-related benefits that should help hospitality employees. Here’s a full list of financial assistance currently available. And here’s a breakdown of what each province is offering as support during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, in the US, a major stimulus package was also passed. However, there’s a healthy amount of skepticism about whether or not the deal will help independent restaurants and its employees.

“The stimulus doesn’t do enough for the restaurant industry, and so it doesn’t do enough for the rest of America. The restaurant industry and its workers, which were uniquely vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic, are an all-too-perfect stand-in for the parts of America and its economy that politicians claim to support the most, and yet listen to the least — small businesses built on the backs of hard-working Americans.”

A number of organizations are doing what they can and sharing plans to support bar and restaurant employees currently out of work including the CPBA Relief Measures, Punch Magazine’s Tip Your Bartender initiative and The Montreal Restaurant Workers Relief Fund.

While these measures will help in the short term, there is broad recognition within the industry that significant steps will be needed to help bars, restaurants and employees longer term. As such, hospitality leaders are swiftly taking action to lobby the government for a commitment to support the industry.

Meanwhile, local restaurants continue to feed us through these tough times. Here’s an ever-growing list of restaurants offering take-out and delivery in the city.

For those that are braving the grocery stores, this video provides some helpful tips for shopping safely and disinfecting foods during the pandemic.

And once you have all your groceries, Bon Appetit has collated a list of recipes and resources to help you cook at home.

Florence Pugh’s home cooking videos on Instagram may also help with recipe ideas (or at least provide a source of entertainment).

Should you want to replicated some well-known Vancouver restaurant dishes at home, Maciel Pereda has you covered.

Interestingly, this whole social distancing thing has resulted in a resurgence of homemade bread baking.

As everyone continues to find innovative ways to help through the crisis, small batch distillers across the country are making sanitizer and disinfectant out of their product.

With so many people stuck at home, it might be worth checking out some recent podcast episodes covering the effects of the pandemic on the industry. Local content includes Track and Food, where Jamie Mah and Micky McLeod recently sat down with Gooseneck Hospitality’s James Iranzad to chat about the city’s restaurant crisis.

Momofuku restaurant owner David Chang also discussed the dire impacts Covid-19 is having on restaurants across the globe on his weekly podcast.

Finally, Samin Nostrat’s Home Cooking podcast may help you to up your cooking game while you find yourself spending more time at home.

This photo essay details the first week of restaurant shutdowns in New York as the industry attempts to adapt to the rapidly changing scene on the ground.

The restaurant industry pays tribute to Floyd Cardoz after the award-winning chef passed away last Tuesday from Covid-related complications.

A reminder that there are still substantial ways you can help the hospitality community through this crisis. These are people that can’t work from home. They are hourly wage earners who often have fewer extended benefits and paid sick time. If you’re looking for ways for ways to support our local hospitality industry and employees:

– Purchase gift cards to use at a later date.
– Order food for pick-up or for delivery (keeping social distance during pick-up).
– Make sure to tip your delivery person well (in many ways, they are on the front lines).
Support your local food bank. This pandemic is increasing the number of people facing food insecurity. They ask that you prioritize financial donations over food so as these can be made online.
– Engage with local restaurants, bars and cafes on social media. Share photos and leave words of encouragement and support.
– If you do need to go grocery shopping, consider supporting a local small business (they’re also often less busy than the larger grocery stores and have more supplies in stock).
– Buy restaurant/bar merchandise online if available (ie: t-shirts, hats, tote bags). Helen Rosner has compiled a list of great F&B merch on her IG Stories.
– If you have private events booked at any local bars/restaurants, consider postponing rather than canceling.
– Check in with your friends who are bartenders, servers, dishwashers, cooks, etc. and ask them how you can best support them through this.

Our social distancing efforts seem to be working and it’s important that we keep it up! For the sake of every food/hospitality person on the frontlines of this fight – the cooks that are still showing up to work to make us food, the grocery store clerk stocking shelves, the delivery person, the warehouse employees keeping supply chains intact – please stay home as much as you can. Take care of each other and stay safe!

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