On Normality Delayed and the Most Selfishly Reckless Restaurant in Vancouver

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

The final Covid-19 update of 2020 came with news of 683 new cases — the highest number since mid-December. While the province continues to roll out vaccines, BC residents wait to see the impact of the holidays on new case numbers in the days and weeks to come. With 2020 just barely in the rearview window, we look at how the past year has affected bars and restaurants and what 2021 may have in store for the industry.

One thing’s for sure, the BC restaurant industry was none-too-pleased with a December 30th announcement from Dr. Henry mandating the stop of liquor sales at 8pm on New Years Eve. That’s not much notice for an industry that’s already been white knuckling it for the past 10 months…

The NYE decision has likely alienated an industry that has already done everything it can to comply with safety orders from the province: The Globe and Mail reports.

“The emergency order was announced without consultation or prior warning. The bar and restaurant industry, which has bent over backward to comply with previous edicts and has done everything necessary to create safe spaces that have not been a significant source of COVID-19 transmissions, is outraged – justly so.”

Not everyone chose to comply, however. Police fined the new Granville Strip restaurant Cold Tea after it hosted a 100 person private party on New Years Eve. (Editor’s note: yes, this is the restaurant referenced in the headline.)

In a small bit of silver lining, the province has set a temporary cap of 15% on food delivery fees through third party apps.

It is an understatement to say that 2020 took a toll on the industry. From Bestie to Campagnolo, the Georgia Straight recaps many of the bars and restaurants that closed their doors permanently in 2020.

Similarly, The New York Times looks at the restaurants that have been lost across the US over the past year.

Despite the pandemic, there were still plenty of amazing restaurants that opened around town, as the Vancouver Sun reports.

Thanks to the pandemic, wildfires and changing consumer habits, food costs will once again be going up for BC residents in 2021.

An important reminder that restaurant patrons have largely been underpaying for their meals for years and that affordability most often comes at the cost of a fair wage for workers.

“Restaurants that have eliminated tipping and committed to a living wage for employees have reluctantly admitted that the sticker shock of higher menu prices, adjusted to fairly pay employees, makes customers balk. Sometimes, it’s enough to make them revert to a tipped system. But what upset customers are forgetting is that most of us have always been underpaying for our dinners out. The public’s perception of how much a meal should cost is incredibly skewed. Your dinner has been subsidized this whole time.”

The New York Times’ Ligaya Mishan on what dining out meant to her and the many profound losses the industry has suffered in the past year.

“By the end of April, close to six million restaurant workers across the country had lost their jobs, about half the industry’s employees and more than a quarter of all Americans who had lost work. To date more than 110,000 restaurants, one out of every six in the country, have closed, and more than two million jobs have not yet been recovered.”

An important reminder that the customer is not always right and that the popular adage has caused serious harm for those working in the industry.

Just because there have been fewer opportunities for the customer to complain to the manager this year, doesn’t mean they didn’t call 911 to complain about their food delivery instead:

“The presence of COVID-19 gave a different twist to some 911 calls this year, with food delivery complaints and questions about lockdown topping E-Comm’s annual list of the worst reasons people called the emergency line.”

Reminder: January 1st doesn’t magically reset the world and restaurants are not going back to normal anytime soon.

Still have that Christmas tree hanging around? NPR suggests a couple of conifer-based recipes before tossing it.

From a shared box of donuts at bingo to indoor dinner dates, New York Times readers share what they’re most looking forward to post-pandemic.

Ten months into the pandemic and the longer-term effects of Covid are becoming more apparent for some folks including a loss of sense of smell and taste.

“Smell is intimately tied to both taste and appetite, and anosmia often robs people of the pleasure of eating. But the sudden absence also may have a profound impact on mood and quality of life.”

The Globe and Mail looks at the long-term impacts of the pandemic on the restaurant industry and whether or not the shift towards eating in will linger into the future.

Despite the effects of the pandemic on the bar industry, there were still plenty of drink trends to be had in 2020, many of which we’ll happily bid farewell to in 2021 (and a few of which we hope will stick around).

Case in point: Goodbye to the Quarantini and other 2021 New Years drinking resolutions.

Finally, with much gratitude, a shout out to the many amazing local bars and restaurants that helped to ensure Scout survived 2020r, even as they themselves were faced unyielding challenges.

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