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 week Dr. Bonnie Henry announced an easing of Covid restrictions- allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people. While new Covid cases are hovering around 500 per day, Dr. Henry has loosened the reins on social gatherings as the vaccine rollout continues to ramp up. While indoor gatherings remain on pause, we continue to cover how the food and beverage industry is fairing as restrictions begin to ease.
First up, P.E.I. has made the decision to prioritize food industry workers in their vaccine rollout- a move that is being applauded by The Canadian Restaurant Workers Coalition.
And that advocacy is for good reason! While causality has yet to be proven, the CDC continues to observe links between spikes in Covid cases and increased dining out activities.
“Examining county-level data from March 1 to December 31, researchers found mask mandates were linked to decreases in daily infections and death growth rates within 20 days. The data also showed that reopening restaurants for on-premises dining was followed by a rise in infections and deaths six to 11 weeks later, especially when mask mandates weren’t in place. The findings don’t prove cause and effect, but the statistically significant patterns are in line with previous studies and expert advice.”
Let’s start with that good news. A key part of the bill, modeled after the so-called RESTAURANTS proposal, allocates $28.6 billion to assist restaurants, food trucks, bars, and street vendors in paying their back rent, mortgages, and pretty much anything else. For cash-strapped workers and their families, stimulus payments will go out to the tune of $1,400 per person. The bill also temporarily boosts the child tax credit to up to $3,600 per dependent, which will be paid out in advance installments as a universal basic income of sorts. Congress also authorized over $22 billion more in housing assistance, and anyone who’s been laid off during the pandemic will now find that they shouldn’t have to pay anything to keep their employer-sponsored health insurance. And gig workers like food delivery couriers — who don’t normally qualify for state unemployment aid — will see their benefits extended through the summer’s end.
Down in Texas, a ramen restaurant was vandalized with racist graffiti after its owner spoke out to the press against Governor Greg Abbott’s irresponsible decision to suddenly end the state’s mask mandate.
Here’s how one Richmond-based organization has been addressing food insecurity through the pandemic:
“The Richmond Food Security Society is a nonprofit organization that “inspires a robust food system through education, advocacy, and community-building initiatives.” One of those initiatives, which began during COVID-19, is the Food Hub; it provides locally-sourced food to community members in need.”
Scout continues it’s tour of the city’s best comfort food with a stop at Bells and Whistles for an order of proper ballpark chilli fries.
Ghost kitchens continue to open around the city, the most recent of which will be serving up chicken and eggplant parm sandwiches. Next up, Richmond will soon welcome a new snack shop serving up corn dogs, fried chicken and macaroni salad.
Meanwhile, Mt. Pleasant will soon be home to Kin Kao’s second location, while Gooseneck Hospitality has acquired Charles Grocery on East 12th Ave with plans to turn it into a sandwich shop and cafe.
Time has little meaning these days but if you can recall five years ago, you might remember the hype around one of Vancouver’s best restaurants’ imminent opening.
The Vancouver Sun’s Mia Stainsby pays a visit to the recently opened Vancouver location of Superbaba.
How Canadian restaurant workers are engaging in mutual aid where government supports have failed.