As the COVID-19 crisis continues to escalate in Metro Vancouver, several of our local restaurants have opted to either close indefinitely or modify their operations to shift to a take-out only model.
Prominent Vancouver-based Toptable Group revealed Monday they would be closing the doors temporarily at all of their restaurants; the group operates locations in Vancouver, Whistler and New York City. In Vancouver, this means their restaurants Elisa, Blue Water, CinCin and Thierry will not be open for service for the time being, effective immediately.
"This is a critical time in the world and we must do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19," said Toptable Group president Michael Doyle.
Over the weekend, other Vancouver restaurants announced they would be closing due to the COVID-19 crisis.
East Vancouver's Aleph Eatery shared on social media that they were closing temporarily, as their co-founder had just returned from travelling and was having to self-isolate. Main Street's Campagnolo also revealed this weekend they were opting to shutter for the time being, as did The Keefer Bar.
Today, other restaurants, bars, and cafes announcing temporary closures include the following: All Colony locations, Como Taperia, St Lawrence, L'Abattoir, Say Mercy, The Mackenzie Room, Bonus Bakery, The Diamond, Kind Cafe, The Magnet, Grapes & Soda, Farmer's Apprentice, Bells and Whistles, Lucky Taco, The Cascade Room and The Union – just to name a few.
However, the majority of restaurants in Vancouver are opting to carry on, though many have increased their offerings for take-out and delivery. Many restaurants have also issued statements regarding their increased cleaning protocols, as well as other safeguarding measures to allow for less shared touch surfaces. For example, many restaurants have put condiment stations behind the counter, and are not offering communal cutlery containers, or dine-in dishes.
Other restaurants are removing seats in order to open up space between diners, or staggering seating within the restaurant to keep people far apart. Parallel 49's "Street Kitchen" tasting room is one example.
While in cities like Los Angeles and New York, as well as in the entire state of Washington there has been a shut-down or drastic reduction in operations for restaurants, so far Vancouver has not moved in that direction.
On Monday, Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s top public health official, announced that there were to be no public gatherings of more than 50 people. Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart reminded residents that they should not be patronizing bars or restaurants where they are likely to be packed in at elbow's length – particularly with St Patrick's Day on Tuesday – but that they should stay home or dine elsewhere.
And late Monday afternoon, Dr. Patricia Daly of Vancouver Coastal Health ordered all bars and restaurants in downtown Vancouver to close for St. Patrick’s Day.
For those who are not ill, and who do not have any reason to self-isolate because of any potential exposure to someone infected with COVID-19 or recent travel, they may opt to dine at local restaurants who remain open – including many who could use the support.
Besides dining in, take-out and delivery remain viable options if you are interested in restaurant meals. Some restaurants are moving to offer exclusively take-out, like East Van's TransAm, the West End's Beetbox, DownLow Burgers and Commercial Drive's Livia. For many, they are scrambling to put online ordering systems in place where previously they had none.
Additionally, restaurants are emphasizing that you can purchase gift certificates for later use, purchase branded merchandise or items they sell in-house (like packaged foods or cookbooks, etc) in order to help support them. Many Metro Vancouver restaurants have banded together under the Breaking Bread collective, which is serving as a great hub for customers to link directly to restaurants for take-out/delivery and/or gift card purchases.