On What’s Next for Hospitality and the Challenges Restaurants Will Face in Hibernation

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

A week after BC health officials announced that current Covid-19 restrictions would extend into the New Year, residents are coming to terms with just how different their holidays will look this year. Despite the more stringent rules, we’re continuing to see several hundred cases a day, many of which are beginning to affect the northern parts of the province. As we wait to see what a comprehensive vaccine rollout will look like for the province, we continue to see how the bar and restaurant industry faring.

Hospitality workers from across the US share how they are marking a holiday season that looks very different this year.

Bon Appetit looks back on a year that turned the restaurant industry on its head and asks what’s next for a sector that accounts for a quarter of the pandemic’s job losses.

In the US, an estimated 100,000 restaurants have already closed and little comfort is coming from Congress as they continue to delay any decisions on sustained support for the industry.

In a follow-up to last week’s story on restaurants closing for the winter, Eater explains what this hibernation period could actually mean for bars and restaurants.

“Hibernation isn’t a long-term solution. Even with costs as low as possible, very few businesses can spend-but-not-earn and stay in business for any meaningful amount of time. Restaurants in particular run on such thin profit margins in good times, that surviving bad times by burning cash and getting deep in debt is in and of itself a risky proposition.”

And while restaurants in BC are still permitted to remain open with indoor dining options, several in downtown Vancouver are opting to either temporarily close or operate under reduced hours due to a much slower December than usual.

And as many restaurants are making the difficult decision to close permanently, Eater explores the multiple losses suffered with every shuttered door.

“Each closing takes with it more than just the food and the space itself. Tied up in restaurants are memories, relationships, and livelihoods. Entire communities revolve around them, depending on their multifold functions as welcoming retreats, gathering sites, and places of work and camaraderie. Multiply closings by the hundreds, by the thousands, and the losses — both material and less concrete — start to pile up.”

In addition to the thousands of restaurants that have had to close since March, there are all the restaurants that never were. Eater reports:

For the culinary industry, this wash of a year has meant massive financial losses and closings, but also the pause of long-in-the-works projects that, due to the pandemic, are now deferred indefinitely.

If you are still on the hunt for a few stocking stuffers this week, finish your shopping and support some of your favourite local restaurants by picking up a few of these delectable goodies!

And if you’re still stuck on gift ideas, just buy them 11 feet of salami: so says The New Yorker’s Helen Rosner.

Just because you can’t sit at the bar these days, doesn’t mean you can’t have a great cocktail! Check out these take-home cocktail kits from a few beloved local bars and restaurants.

And speaking of take-home kits, whether you’re craving a tapas spread or a fresh-baked pizza, these local spots have got all of your meal kit needs covered.

If it’s a traditional holiday spread you’re looking for this Friday, these restaurants are offering up take-home turkey dinner with all the fixings.

If you’re up for making your own recipes from scratch this December, consider mixing up a Tom and Jerry punch to share with your bubble.

You could also try your hand at making Boilo, a sweet and spicy winter punch that’s a favourite in Pennsylvania.

“You can be forgiven for not knowing about boilo. Outside of Pennsylvania, this warm drink, sipped by the shot, is rarely seen, and its main ingredient, Four Queens whiskey, is practically impossible to source over the state border. But for many residents of Pennsylvania coal country, the drink is an indispensable winter treat that began as a favorite of the area’s hardy miners. Today, it endures as a cold-weather cocktail and an unlikely soother of colds and the flu.”

And if you’re looking for something zero-proof this holiday season, you can pick up one of these non-alcoholic options to ring in the New Year.

It’s still so baffling how the richest man in the world can sleep at night while refusing to give his employees hazard pay in the middle of a pandemic. Like, WTF?

Despite the unprecedented year, there were still a number of authors that managed to give us some great cookbooks and Helen Rosner shares her picks for the best of the best in 2020.

Finally, though 2020 sucked there were still delicious meals to be had. Grub Street’s erudite Adam Platt shares a few of his favourites.

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