Across Canada, restaurants are a cornerstone of our communities that serve up much more than just tasty cuisine.
Our lives look different than they did a year ago, and so do our communities. Walking down the street, we see shuttered doors, ‘for sale’ signs and empty storefronts that were once filled with a buzz of activity. Ten thousand restaurants have permanently closed across Canada since March 2020. According to our recent Restaurants Canada survey, 65 per cent of restaurants said they are continuing to operate at a loss. Nevertheless, our industry continues to fight an uphill battle.
Rolling lockdowns have been one of the major challenges facing our industry. Going in and out of lockdown is devastating, not only for the many hardworking restaurant operators but all small business owners whose businesses are their livelihoods, the many Canadians they employ and the other industries that depend on each other for their own survival.
Eighty-seven per cent of Canadians agree that restaurants are doing a good job of keeping customers safe; however, there is growing dissatisfaction as operators struggle to break even and that investments in safety measures have been all for naught. A typical restaurant has invested around $20,000 in protective equipment. Add that up across Canada, and you’re looking at restaurants having invested over $750-million in health and safety improvements such as increased staffing, contact tracing, masks, gloves, face shields, Plexiglas barriers, ventilation upgrades and more – only to be ordered shut down.
We stand ready to work with government and health professionals as part of the solution to reopen safely and aid in Canada’s economic recovery.
As we transition through the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic and toward a strong and resilient recovery, there needs to be an evolution from emergency measures to a framework that supports business continuity and favourable economic relaunch conditions for the longer term.
In recent weeks, we convened the Restaurant Revival Working Group, which has brought together elected officials, government representatives and industry leaders to not only focus on helping restaurant operators pull through the remainder of the COVID-19 crisis but also ensure they are set up for success in the post-pandemic economic environment.
We appreciate the support provided thus far by all levels of government across the country; however, we believe that now is a unique opportunity to reassess the existing programs and create a vision and plan for the immediate future.
We have identified crucial gaps and proposed innovative solutions that will help secure a sustainable future for the restaurants across the country that anchor their local economies, including:
- Lockdown and recovery support, including an extension of the CEWS and CERS.
- A strategic reopening plan that invests in rebuilding consumer confidence across the post-pandemic operating environment.
Our sector has been hit hard, but restaurant operators are resourceful and resilient. Government efforts to help them thrive can go a long way. Because literally and figuratively, restaurants are key to feeding the recovery.
Restaurants bring a lot to the table, and when they thrive, so do the communities they call home. Even during the best of times, the average foodservice establishment keeps only about 50 cents of every $10 spent on a restaurant meal. The rest goes back into the economy in the form of jobs, food and beverage purchases, contributions to charity and more.
Ninety-two per cent of Canadians agree that restaurants are an important part of their community. If you are part of this overwhelming majority, we urge you to visit SupportRestaurants.ca to sign a pledge of support for your local restaurant. There, you can also find information on how you can be a part of ensuring your neighbourhood restaurant, bakery or café survives this challenging time.
From February 28 to March 3, the industry will gather at RC Show 2021 to learn and prepare for the future. In fact, the theme of our upcoming RC Show 2021 (Canada’s leading food and beverage event) is ‘Feeding the Recovery,’ and it has never been more appropriate.
With solution-based content to help operators recover – and discussions around some of the biggest issues at hand including labour, mental health and systemic racism – the RC Show is designed to support one of the hardest hit sectors of the Canadian economy. Proceeds from the show are funded back into the industry through programs, education and advocating activities.
It is our hope that the RC Show will help to fuel our industry forward, so we can ensure that our communities return to the vibrant neighbourhoods they once were.
It’s time to rebuild, reinvent and reconnect.
ABOUT THE RC SHOW ONLINE LIVE
Taking place from February 28 to March 3, the RC Show – ONLINE LIVE offers foodservice and hospitality industry professionals an unparalleled forum to safely gather, gain inspiration and insights, and discover innovative approaches and solutions to rebuild and recover.
In addition to showcasing new revenue opportunities, operational enhancements and inspiring competitions, the RC Show 2021 will tackle pressing issues like mental health and the ever-rising importance of ethnically and culturally inclusive workplaces.
For example, while mental wellness is a longstanding societal concern, the pandemic’s mounting financial burdens on the foodservice and hospitality industry have brought mental health to the forefront – from owners to front-line workers.
Similarly, a growing anti-discrimination movement is calling for greater inclusiveness and recognition that women make up 58 per cent of the restaurant workforce; 31 per cent of restaurant owners, operators and staff belong to a visible minority; and that fully half of all Canadian restaurants are run by new Canadians.
Over 100 expert speakers from around the globe will dive into these and other pressing topics.
- TOP CHEFS from around the world including chefs Massimo Bottura, Michael Smith, Ralph Carlone, Roger Mooking and Suzanne Barr.
- BUSINESS LEADERS including Danny Meyer, founder and CEO Union Square Hospitality Group; Dominos’ CEO Ritch Allison; Nivera Wallani, president and general manager, KFC Canada (Yum! Brands); Jim Treliving, chairman and owner of Boston Pizza; and more.
- RESEARCH DATA AND INSIGHTS from Donna Crecca, principal, Technomics; Asad Amin, vice president, Ipsos; Vince Sgabellone, foodservice analyst, The NPD Group; and Shauna Houlton, director, Consumer Insights, Corus Entertainment.
To learn more, visit www.rcshow.com.
Advertising feature produced by Randall Anthony Communications with Restaurants Canada. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.