TORONTO —Flanagan Foodservice has created an interactive tool to help shine a spotlight on small restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company recently released an interactive map showing restaurants offering takeout and delivery throughout Ontario. Customers can search their area for options they may not have known were there.
Barry Reid, vice-president of Sales and Marketing at Flanagan, was one of the people behind the creation of the map.
“With the events happening today, we’ve tried to come up with various ideas of what we could do to help our customers,” says Reid. “We started with our takeout packages, because that’s become a big [demand]. Then we started thinking about what else we can do. How do we let people know [our] various [restaurant] customers are open?”
Since its creation, the map has received an outpouring of support from businesses across the province.
“It was an overwhelming response when we sent out a message asking if they were open and what their hours were,” says Marketing manager Jackie Oakes. “We’ve never had this many customers reach out like that.”
For Oakes and Reid, there wasn’t a better time to start this tool, with many consumers looking for more takeout and delivery options in lieu of going out to eat.
“You’ve got restaurants that traditionally haven’t done takeout or it wasn’t a big piece now doing takeout, so consumers might not have thought of them when thinking of takeout,” says Reid. “It gives the little guy hope. People are thinking about this saying, ‘people are trying to help me.’”
“We want [people] to know [which restaurants are] open and to go out and support their local restaurants,” adds Oakes.
The foodservice industry is one of the biggest in Canada, generating $90 billion in annual sales, while employing more than a million Canadians, according to Restaurants Canada. And with the COVID-19 virus causing the closure of many restaurants, and the loss of thousands of jobs across the industry, Reid and Oakes agree keeping the remaining restaurants operational is a necessity.
“Restaurants are essential service; a lot of the population relies on foodservice for their meals. I know people who don’t own stoves,” says Reid. “Now, we’re looking to expand through a provider of ours to take the map across Canada.”
That provider is Greenbridge and, by using its network, Flanagan Foodservice hopes to see small businesses work together and put themselves on the map.