On Mysterious Pasta Shortages and Setting the Table for New Variants

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

Another long weekend, another stern warning from health officials to avoid gatherings and respect current restrictions. This past Friday came with news of another 445 new cases of Covid-19 in the province. While numbers in BC have plateaued, officials are hoping to stave off another spike in cases which the province has seen before after holiday weekends. With new variants circulating in the community and a slower vaccine distribution process than expected, we continue to cover how the food and beverage industry is fairing through the pandemic.

To begin, Eater asks what these new Covid-19 variants mean for restaurant dining and worker safety in the coming months.

In New York City, indoor dining reopened as of Valentine’s Day at reduced capacity. Here’s how restaurants prepared to open their doors again.

Similarly, The New Yorker’s Helen Rosner raises important questions as to why indoor dining has re-opened in NYC in the first place.

“When the city’s dining rooms reopened in September, the seven-day average for new infections was in the three hundreds; on December 11th, when Cuomo shut them down again, the average had climbed to 3,391. On Friday, when he announced the Valentine’s Day reopening, it was 5,579—sixty-five per cent higher than the figure he’d deemed too dangerous the first time around.”

Meanwhile in Portland, news that restaurants can re-open to indoor dining at 25% capacity was met with a mixed response from industry employees.

New Orleans, on the other hand, has announced that all bars will be closed for Mardi Gras, and that includes a ban on to-go drinks.

A reminder that no matter where you’re dining these days, if you can’t be kind and follow the rules then stay the f*ck home.

How one restaurant veteran is attempting to address the mental health crisis within the industry:

“This has been something that’s been going on for years, and no one has ever talked about,” says Zia Sheikh, who worked in professional kitchens for nearly two decades before founding Restaurant After Hours to address mental-health issues in the industry. “It’s such a huge issue that not one person can try to fix everything. This is going to take support from a lot of people.”

With over a million vaccine doses being administered per day in the US, grocery store employees are strongly advocating for their place in line.

Want to support local farms and stock up on produce? Consider signing up for a CSA this year!

A recent survey shows how the pandemic has impacted people’s habits when it comes to dining out and ordering in.

How a local restaurant owner has pushed back against third party delivery apps by creating his own platform.

Speaking of third party delivery apps, DoorDash has recently acquired an automated food prep company.

A tough goodbye for the restaurant industry: after temporarily shuttering last spring, Gastown’s Wildebeest has announced that it will close permanently.

The city will also be saying goodbye to one of the oldest White Spot locations in Vancouver. 

Finally, The great bucatini shortage of 2020 explained!

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