From the Editor: Reflect, Re-Set and Re-Invent

Photo by Nick Wong

As the world prepares to journey on the road to post-COVID-19 recovery, the restaurant industry finds itself in a state of crisis, through no fault of its own.

With most restaurants around the world forced into lockdown since March 13 — with the exception of those that managed to pivot to takeout and delivery — and very little rent relief in sight, many operators face a herculean task keeping their doors open. According to a survey from Restaurants Canada, one of every two restaurants won’t survive post COVID-19. Those lucky enough to remain open are waiting anxiously to see how reduced-capacity limits of 50 per cent to ensure physical distancing, as well as new safety protocols, will play out. While most restaurateurs admit the reduction in capacity will create serious challenges, they also know it’s the only game in town right now.

With the short summer season almost upon us and patios beckoning, restaurants are scrambling to ready themselves to spring into action as soon as governments allow it, all the while hoping we won’t face a second wave of the pandemic come fall.

Certainly, the restaurant industry is being decimated and forced to reflect, re-
set and re-invent. But without a huge outlay of funds and support from government — along with support from all segments of the supply chain — the survival of many restaurants is at risk.

For operators, much of the growing frustration has been directed at third-party aggregators, some of whom have resisted lowering commission rates. And while many operators appreciate measures introduced by government — especially the 75 per cent wage subsidy — the issue of rent relief has been emotionally draining as many landlords have been less than willing to co-operate. Operators are upset, and justifiably so, that the onus for rent relief has been placed on the landlord and measures to curb evictions have not been
implemented, leaving some operators locked out of their spaces.

While governments have tried to provide relief, the measures are not not enough. It’s unbelievable that, as an important industry that generates revenues in excess of $90-billion and employs 1.2 million Canadians, (800,000 of whom have now lost their jobs) the industry has not received the support it needs. “Restaurants employ people; we create the suppliers, we essentially feed people, we pay the government more money than we make in profits and then we pay the landlord,” said Toronto chef/owner Grant van Gameren in a recent episode of my Table Talk podcast. “We’re essentially the heart of the body. Without us, no one else exists or gets paid.”

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Rosanna Caira is the editor and publisher of Kostuch Media’s Foodservice and Hospitality, and Hotelier magazines. In her capacity as editor of Canada’s two leading hospitality publications, Rosanna directs the editorial and graphic content of both publications, and is responsible for the editorial vision of the magazines, its five websites as well as the varied tertiary products including e-newsletters, supplements and special projects. In addition to her editorial duties, Rosanna also serves as publisher of the company, directing the strategic development of the Sales and Marketing, Production and Circulation departments. Rosanna is the face of the magazines, representing the publications at industry functions and speaking engagements. She serves on various committees and Boards, including the Board of Directors of the Canadian Hospitality Foundation. She is a recipient of the Ontario Hostelry’s Gold Award in the media category. In 2006, Rosanna was voted one of the 32 most successful women of Italian heritage in Canada. Rosanna is a graduate of Toronto’s York University, where she obtained a BA degree in English literature.

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