On the heels of numerous Metro Vancouver restaurants announcing they would be voluntarily and temporarily closing their doors due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis come several more such announcements late Monday and into Tuesday.
From high-profile Canadian chains with multiple locations to smaller independent operations, the restaurant industry as we know it is grinding to a halt.
While some restaurants are opting to close their dining rooms but still offer takeout or to-go service, many more are simply closing the doors completely at this time – in the hopes they will be able to pick up again once the crisis has cooled and the dining public can go out and eat again.
Chains like Cactus Club, JOEY and Earls have closed their dining rooms but are offering delivery and takeout. Similarly, independent restaurants or small local chains have shifted to do the same. You'll be able to get laksa from Shiok, plant-based salads and bowls from Kokomo that way – even pints of ice cream or jars of pickles from local vendors will be able to be dispatched to you via delivery service or for grab-and-go at shop locations. You can even order up one of TransAm's epic burgers for delivery, even though the small East Van bar is not open for cocktails and hanging out.
For some restaurateurs, this will mark their first foray into takeout and delivery, and for many this means signing up with established carrier services – many of which are waiving or discounting fees for customers and restaurant owners – or launching their own online ordering platforms for the first time.
One great resource for what restaurants are offering in terms of takeout, delivery, or support in alternate forms (like buying gift cards for later use) is the site Breaking Bread, which launched a few days ago and is serving as a portal for restaurants across the region. Look for frequent updates to the site.
However, many restaurants are simply closing their doors at this time instead, with the intent to bide their time if and when they are able to pick up again. The Donnelly Group properties have shuttered their Vancouver and Toronto bar and restaurant outposts, and have said there is the risk that not all of them will be able to reopen. Their partner property, the downtown Vancouver farm-to-table restaurant Royal Dinette, announced Monday they were closing permanently.
A number of popular local eateries, including places like Como Taperia, Little Bird Dim Sum and Oddfish, are among the independent restaurants closing temporarily and not moving to take-out or delivery.
Complicating matters has been the two-part announcement from Vancouver Coastal Health ordering first all of the bars and restaurants in Downtown Vancouver to cease operations for St Patrick's Day, then increasing the restriction to cover the entire city. It is quite possible some may simply not re-open on the 18th.
Bars specifically will now have no choice but to close their doors for now. During her briefing on Tuesday, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that because bars and nightclubs do not meet the criteria to enact social distancing that they will now be required to close.
With hundreds of restaurants in Vancouver and neighbouring communities, and things changing daily or even more frequently, those who wish to support their favourite bars, restaurants and cafés should check the businesses' websites and social media pages for updates on what they are offering, including any special promotions for discounts, gift card purchases, or enhanced menu options like family meals, or curbside pick-up.