On Restaurant Bailouts and Anti-Maskers Threatening Hospitality Workers With Violence

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

After several weeks of record-breaking Covid-19 numbers, Friday came with the news of 516 new cases, the lowest since November 5th. On Thursday, health officials announced an extension of current restrictions as well as a mandatory mask mandate which many had been anticipating for weeks. As residents wait to see what kind of effect these restrictions will have on case numbers, we continue to cover how the battered bar and restaurant industry is fairing both at home and abroad.

Understandably, several industry folks are worried about what further restrictions might mean for bars and restaurants should case numbers continue to rise.

BC isn’t the only province that’s seeing a rise in cases. Last week, Ontario started seeing upwards of 1,500 new cases a day and has now ordered a 28-day lockdown in the Toronto and Peel regions. These restrictions include a suspension of dine-in services at restaurants.

Even with the relatively small number of cases currently affecting the Atlantic bubble, Halifax is starting to impose stricter guidelines and the local restaurant industry is adjusting as needed.

New York is also imposing a 10pm curfew to try to combat rising cases. While the move will force earlier ‘last calls’ for bars and restaurants, there are some questions about its overall effectiveness:

The trendiness of curfews has perplexed public-health officials, who say they’re just a weaker form of more effective stay-at-home orders from leaders resistant to completely shutting down cities. According to experts at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who today shared a road map to reverse the country’s alarming coronavirus trends, the best way to halt the exponential progress of COVID-19’s march — as it always has been — is “closing high-risk activities where the epidemic is worsening and reinstituting stay-at-home orders where healthcare systems are in crisis.”

As restaurants across the country try to weather this second wave, some are making adjustments to their menus to help them survive the uncertainty:

In a bid to survive the second wave, eateries are pandemic-proofing their menus by offering customers top sellers while deleting the less popular items for now. “Less is more on menus is a good idea right now,” says Martin Vezina, a spokesman for the Quebec Restaurant Association. “Restaurants are figuring out what they do well, and what works for delivery, and cutting the rest.”

NPR reports on the toll the second wave is likely to take on the US restaurant industry through the winter months.

As cases also ramp up south of the border, restaurants continue to advocate for an industry-wide bailout:

“In restaurants, the consequences of the death spiral of pandemic mismanagement are glaringly obvious, and speak to a larger breakdown in public life. Independent restaurant owners across America have been asked to take on unimaginable financial and health risks to keep their businesses open, and now, eight months into the pandemic, another shutdown could render those months of struggle moot.”

It would be great if all restaurant customers were on the same page about Covid, and even if they weren’t they were at least decent human beings about it. This story out of Indiana is pretty frustrating:

On Nov. 12, MashCraft Brewing Co. in Greenwood closed early after a patron refused to wear a mask and threatened employees. “We’re closing tonight due to violent threats toward our staff from someone who didn’t want to wear a mask. After a bad exchange in our building and multiple threatening phone calls from the individual after leaving, we are closing to protect our staff,” the company posted on its Facebook page.

With the holidays just around the corner, Eater provides some helpful suggestions for politely declining those invitations to family dinner.

A little something to look forward to: Kits will soon be home to LB2, an all-day brunch spot set to open in early 2021.

Meanwhile, the city continues to see a number of restaurant closures, including Assembli on Cambie and Bean Brothers in Kerrisdale.

In the time of Instagram, it’s important to remember that it’s not always the prettiest dish that requires our attention.

With the hospitality industry facing so many challenges, it’s heartening to hear about this Chicago restaurant’s pay-it-forward model:

Community Canteen opens today in the Bridgeport neighborhood, the Chicago Tribune reports. What’s really of note, however, is its operating model: It’s a pay-it-forward restaurant. Which means you can pick what you’d like to eat, and anything you give funds a future meal for someone else. Anyone in need is free to take a meal for free, no questions asked.

Dine out (or order in) for a good cause this week: a number of local restaurants are participating in Dine Strathcona to raise funds for WISH Drop-In Centre.

If you’re planning on doing some holiday baking this year, Eater has some suggestions for safely mailing festive treats to your loved ones.

Finally, while we know the holidays will look quite different this year, perhaps you can find some comfort in the familiar scent of 11 herbs and spices

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