On New Restaurant Surcharges and How Covid Is Changing the Lives of Hospitality Workers

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

This past Friday came with news of another 139 new cases bringing the total number of active cases in the province to a record 1803. Dr. Bonnie Henry emphasized that the cases we are seeing today are a “direct result” of how people spent their Labour Day weekend and requested that residents reduce their contact to bubbles of six. With colder months on the way and a hospitality industry already struggling, we continue to look at how bars and restaurants are coping with all the ongoing uncertainty…

First up, let’s start with a bit of good news! Canada’s Food Inspection Agency announced this past week that there have been no reports of food or food packaging transmission of Covid-19.

In another small silver lining, it looks like folks across the country have been wasting less food during the pandemic.

“Since the introduction of public health measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 63 percent of Canadians are shopping less often, but are buying more food per trip than before. More households are adopting food-saving habits, especially checking what food is already in the house, freezing foods to extend shelf life, and getting creative with leftovers.”

In less good news, Vancouver Is Awesome reports on a few restaurant closures you may not have heard about including East Broadway’s Buns and Boba and West Broadway’s Shaolin Noodle House.

Despite the difficulties the industry is facing, new restaurants are continuing to open around town. New restaurants means new reviews, including this one from the Vancouver Sun of the newest location of Do Chay.

According to a investigative attorney appointed by our Mayor, restaurateur and Vancouver City Councillor Michael Wiebe should resign from council because of a conflict of interest that saw his business (Mount Pleasant’s Eight ½ Restaurant) benefit from his votes:

The investigation focused on motions concerning the city’s temporary expedited patio program and the expansion of liquor service areas at two council meetings on May 13 and May 27 where, in both instances, Wiebe failed to declare his conflict of interest. After reviewing the minutes from the first meeting, Young found that Wiebe both amended motions and voted in favour of amendments for motions on TEPP. Then, on May 27, Wiebe both seconded and voted in favour of two motions that would benefit his businesses. Wiebe’s Eight ½ Restaurant was one of the first 14 businesses to receive temporary patio permits from the city.

In preparation for fall and winter, Vancouver city council voted unanimously to extend temporary patio permits for restaurants, allowing the industry to prepare their outdoor spaces for colder weather.

“Several motions were brought forward to city councils this week to allow businesses to keep their pop-up patios open as colder, wet weather approaches by winterizing them with heaters, temporary roofing, awnings or secured tents. Vancouver council voted unanimously Wednesday night to extend the city’s temporary patios this fall and winter and to make them part of every summer season.”

The province is reporting record sales to the tune of $10.5 billion in 2019 for the food and beverage processing industry. Given what we have learned about the risks of working in the food processing industry, especially during the pandemic, it does beg the question of how much of those record sales are actually benefiting workers.

NPR highlights the particularly egregious consequences of the west coast wildfires for farm workers in the US.

In a win for fast food workers in the USA, a judge overturned a Trump administration rule prohibiting employees of franchises from holding their employers legally responsible for labour violations.

Former Bon Appetit food writer and test kitchen star Priya Krishna on the magazine’s repeated marginalization and tokenization of people of colour and how she made the decision to leave this summer.

Zero Foodprint co-founder Anthony Myint proposes a 1 percent fee to all restaurant bills in order to support the industry in addressing climate change.

Myint calls this consumer-funded model “table to farm.” As cofounder (along with Chris Ying and Peter Freed) of the nonprofit Zero Foodprint, which has worked since 2015 to reduce and offset the carbon footprint of restaurants, Myint and his organization work with restaurants to assess their contributions to climate change. It then leads the charge in asking consumers to pay an additional 1 percent upfront, with money going to those who invest in returning organic matter to barren soil or capture carbon from the atmosphere.

On the subject of surcharges, New York City will soon allow restaurants to add a 10 percent surcharge to dine-in bills as a way to support their businesses through the pandemic.

Dachi co-owner Miki Ellis joins the Track and Food podcast to chat about how her business has been adapting and managing through so much change and uncertainty.

Speaking of change and uncertainty, Eater looks at how the Portland restaurant industry is coping through the challenges of both the pandemic and hazardous smoke levels from west coast wildfires.

As smoke from the state’s several wildfires rolled into Portland, the air began to reach hazardous levels, making it dangerous to spend too much time outside. That was yet another blow to the restaurant industry after a brutal year: Many restaurant owners had just figured out a form of outdoor or patio service, which seemed like a naturally ventilated, socially distanced option that felt safe and comfortable for both employees and diners. When the smoke rolled in, many restaurants had to fall back onto takeout and delivery alone, but even that wasn’t enough for some.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, a few prominent restaurant owners are considering suing the local government in order to reopen their dining rooms.

Perhaps they’d be happier in Texas where the Governor just announced an executive order expanding indoor dining to 75% of capacity (because it went so well the first time around).

“It’s actually the second time that restaurants have been allowed to increase to 75 percent capacity — Abbott initially announced plans for that back in June, then walked them back as COVID-19 cases rose.”

Even though it was announced in June that the NYPD would no longer be responsible for enforcing street-vending laws, they still seem to be ticketing food trucks around the city.

From increasing debt to fewer job opportunities and unemployment to limited hours, restaurant industry workers share how the first six months of the pandemic have affected their lives.

Looking for work? Check out who’s hiring!

There are 4 comments

  1. Typical of hard times, I see plenty of bickering and attempts to bring us / others all down. Why don’t you focus on some revolutionary ideas and get us to start challenging all this Plandemic BS? I mean, come on! The wave has passed. Now the new strategy to instill fear is: ‘case counting’. Did they do that for the past 100 years of corona and flus? NO. You are part of the problem if restaurants continue to suffer. And do you know there is a growing body of protest regarding all this unfounded paranoia that is brought to you by the ‘media’ and the science fiction health professionals. Wake up / Speak up! Bonnie Henry: Seriously?

  2. Typical of hard times, I see plenty of bickering and attempts to bring us / others all down. Why don’t you focus on some revolutionary ideas and get us to start challenging all this Plandemic BS? I mean, come on! The wave has passed. Now the new strategy to instill fear is: ‘case counting’. Did they do that for the past 100 years of corona and flus? NO. Flu deaths are at ‘normal’. You are part of the problem if restaurants continue to suffer. Speak up. And do you know there is a growing body of protest regarding all this unfounded paranoia that is brought to you by the ‘media’ and the science fiction health professionals. Wake up / Speak up! Bonnie Henry: Seriously?

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