Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

The menu at the Stubborn Goat Gastropub in downtown Halifax will always have a classic burger and gourmet mac n’ cheese.

But the slightly more eccentric dishes, peppered with unique ingredients, might be harder to come by these days.

“We reduced the size of our menus right across the board,” says Joe McGuinness, co-owner of Legendary Hospitality, which operates three restaurants in the coastal city.

Story continues below advertisement

“We took the best of the best and put it on the menu.”

It’s part of a trend at restaurants across the country.

In a bid to survive the second wave, eateries are pandemic-proofing their menus by offering customers top sellers while deleting the less popular items for now.

“Less is more on menus is a good idea right now,” says Martin Vezina, a spokesman for the Quebec Restaurant Association.

“Restaurants are figuring out what they do well, and what works for delivery, and cutting the rest.”

It’s not a panacea. Restaurateurs are tinkering with nearly every facet of their operations in an effort to stay afloat, including operating hours, staffing levels, delivery packaging, contactless payment systems, website upgrades, patio enclosures and the installation of Plexiglas dividers. Other changes include grocery sales and the retrofitting of bathrooms with touchless toilets and faucets.

“There’s not a magic bullet,” says Luc Erjavec, Atlantic Canada vice-president with Restaurants Canada. “It’s about doing a number of things differently to survive.”

Story continues below advertisement

Yet changes to menus are among the most visible ways eateries are adapting to the pandemic.

While generally based on the popularity of a dish, menu edits are also influenced by what travels well for take out and delivery – the sole source of revenue for restaurants in regions where indoor dining is off limits.

“During the lockdown, we did remove items from our menu that didn’t make sense to offer for delivery,” says Dan Joseph, owner of Darrell’s Restaurant in Halifax.

“Like lasagna, for example, that’s not something that people will order much for delivery it doesn’t hold up particularly well.”

Indeed, Darrell’s is credited by some as getting food delivery down to a science.

The milkshake-and-hamburger institution is using bamboo and sugarcane containers, biodegradable cutlery and paper straws.

Story continues below advertisement

Joseph says the restaurant is currently testing three paper bags. He says they don’t “sweat” like a plastic bag, and can be stapled shut to ensure they aren’t tampered with by a driver.

“’'We want to make sure we get it right,” he says. “Once that bag is in place, it’s foolproof.”

Smaller menus have additional benefits, including lower inventory levels in kitchens, which reduces potential losses in the event another full lockdown is ordered.

“You want to reduce your inventory because that was one of the significant losses that hit all restaurants back in March,” McGuinness says. “We discarded tens of thousands of dollars of inventory.”

Still, even though restaurants are streamlining menus to curb costs, diners may not always notice.

Meagan Andrews, the head chef at the Stubborn Goat, says the menu was designed so ingredients could be used in several meals.

Story continues below advertisement

“Our menu still looks big, but if you look closely a lot of the ingredients are used in multiple dishes,” she says. “For example, half the ingredients in a mac n’ cheese might be used on a pizza, and that cuts down on our inventory and prep time.”

The chef was also inspired by the mood of the pandemic when developing the menu.

“When we reopened after the lockdown, we took the opportunity to take comfort classic dishes and recreate them,” Andrews says. “People want something they’re familiar with, but elevated in creative way.”

Meanwhile, it’s not just the menu selection that’s been altered at the restaurant, but the medium of the menu itself.

Rather than receive a physical menu when you sit down, the eatery’s tables are equipped with a type of bar-code called a QR code.

“You scan the QR code on your phone, and the menu pops up,” McGuinness says. “We don’t want people touching a menu and then passing it on to somebody else. This eliminates the need to wipe down shared menus or print new menus.”

Story continues below advertisement

Yet while many restaurants are trying new things to survive the pandemic, Erjavec with Restaurants Canada says it remains a work in progress.

“This is uncharted territory and things are still changing every day,” he says. “Restaurants are using a lot of trial and error to survive.”

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you manage your health, your finances and your family life as Canada reopens.
Visit the hub

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies