The Intelligence Brief is our weekly compendium of food and drink news sourced from outlets all over the world, including right here at home.
In the lead-up to the long weekend, we were reminded of the importance of maintaining Covid-19 safety measures. With 50 new cases announced this past Friday, health officials encouraged caution with gatherings in order to avoid another spike in cases. This week we continue to look at how the bar and restaurant industry is managing in these extraordinary times.
The recent rise in Covid-19 cases has led the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association to issue a stern warning to its members: follow the rules or risk another lockdown.
A recent survey from Stats Canada shows a marked increase in food insecurity among Canadians, a trend that is likely to worsen due to the pandemic:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought distinct challenges to many sectors of the food supply chain that have reshaped their operations with physical distancing, the use of personal protective gear and equipment modifications – all of which are contributing to rising costs.”
“More than 43,750 meatpacking and food processing workers in 530 facilities have tested positive for coronavirus, and at least 184 have died after infection. Now, a coalition of advocacy groups is trying a new strategy to protect these mostly Latinx, Asian, and African American workers: They filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on July 8, accusing Tyson and JBS USA of racial discrimination during the pandemic.”
Agriculture employees across the country are restricting the movement of migrant farm workers raising serious concerns about human rights violations:
“Some employees said they have not ventured off the grounds for several months, forgoing grocery runs, church services, medical appointments and visits with spouses and children who live in Canada year-round. Workers told The Globe that they feel pressure to abide by the employer-imposed restrictions because their status in the country is tied to their status on the farm.”
Consider this your weekly reminder to heed Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice: be calm, be kind, be safe. And if a restaurant asks you to wear a mask, don’t be an asshole about it. I may have added in that last part…
An important reminder that while masks might be front and center of current restaurant worker abuses, these behaviours are a continuation of a long history of mistreatment that have been upheld by food media and requires urgent attention.
“In the most extreme cases — Mario Batali, the Spotted Pig — abuse within the industry is covered extensively by reporters. What gets far less attention, even now, is the pervasive way this insidious behavior affects all aspects of restaurant work. The fact is that despite the progress of the Me Too movement, as well as the increasing presence of chefs from diverse backgrounds, restaurants remain a largely uncomfortable and unequal space for anyone who is not a straight, white, cisgender man.”
The New York Restaurant group that helped lead a move towards a no-tipping practice is moving away from the model as their restaurants re-open.
Even amid these challenging times, new restaurants continue to open, including the second location of DoChay which opened its doors in Yaletown this past weekend. (See also: Straight & Marrow.)
Fairmont Pacific Rim announced this past week that Kitchen Table Group – owners of Di Beppe, Ask For Luigi and Pourhouse (among others) – is taking over the hotel’s Giované Cafe starting this month.
The city’s Temporary Expedited Patio Program has resulted in dozens of new outdoor dining spaces. In a new feature, Scout has mapped out many of the new al fresco spots.
And speaking of outdoor spaces, check out the new Keefer Yards, which just opened this past weekend!
Unfortunately, the realities of the pandemic have also mean several restaurant closures, including Burnaby’s The Pear Tree, which will shutter before the end of August.
Finally, this week in food and podcasts, Eater’s Digest looks at the US Government’s continued stalemate over extending benefits for unemployed workers and what future relief packages could mean for restaurant workers.