TORONTO — As measures are being taken to ‘flatten the curve’ of the COVID-19 outbreak, a growing number of restaurant companies have been forced to react with altered operations and temporary closures. Below are some of the most recent examples.
A&W Canada closed its restaurant dining rooms starting March 18, focusing on service through take-out, drive-thru, mobile ordering and third-party delivery services. The company has also indicated it’s taking steps to ensure employees “who are feeling ill or at-risk do not have to come in to work and will not suffer financially as a result.”
On March 17, Boston Pizza international Inc. (BPI) closed all of its dining rooms and sports bars across Canada until further notice. Kitchens will continue to remain open in support of takeout and delivery.
Benny&Co. has closed the dining rooms at all of its rotisseries in Quebec and is asking customers to opt for the delivery service and credit-card payment on its transactional site in order to reduce unnecessary handling. It’s also adjusted its hours for takeout, drive-thru and delivery orders and will not be accepting cash payment until further notice.
Sportscene Group Inc. has temporarily closed approximately 25 per cent of its restaurants — 13 La Cage – Brasserie sportive restaurants and the Moishes restaurant — until further notice as part of its measures in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The company notes these measures will result in the temporary layoff of 2,200 people.
“Further to actively following the authorities’ guidelines, these additional measures will help reduce the risks to the health and safety of our customers and employees,” says Jean Bédard, president and CEO, Sportscene Group Inc. “We regret the layoffs resulting from these measures and the effect this will have on our employees and their families. I would also like to highlight the hard work of all our teams who are diligently managing this situation in order to help mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 virus on the health of the population.”
Sportscene is also granting royalty-payment breaks to its franchisees “for an indefinite period” and has relocated its resources to focus on delivery and take-out services in its operating restaurants.
White Spot Hospitality has temporarily suspended dine-in service at White Spot and Triple O’s locations. Effective March 17; meals are only available for take-out by phone and online orders, or third-party delivery services. This temporary policy includes Triple O’s Chevron locations, where drive-thru and counter service will continue to be offered in lieu of dine-in seating.
White Spot’s Car Hop experience will still be offered at drive-in locations, with packaged meals being provided instead of the usual dining tray.
These latest measures join a growing roster of restaurant brands and companies — as well as numerous independent operations — that have modified operations or temporarily closed as the country grapples with the COVID-19 outbreak, including Recipe Unlimited’s brands, Mandarin, Starbucks, Second Cup, Pacini, Tim Hortons and many more.
In the face of increasing public-health measures and growing uncertainty, the impact on restaurant revenues is undeniable. Data from OpenTable indicates seated diners at restaurants across its network in Canada have been experiencing growing declines through the month of March. For example, the number of seated diners was down eight per cent year-over-year on March 6, down 40 per cent on March 13 and, as of March 17, is down 94 per cent (year-over-year comparison compares the same day of the week from the same week of the previous year). OpenTable’s state-of-the-industry data can be viewed here.