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Restaurants resourcefully adapting to COVID-19 pandemic with new delivery options

Local restaurants are getting creative with new measures to help them adapt to harsh operating conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hot pot purveyor Liuyishou has begun offering a home delivery option at its Scarborough and Richmond Hill locations. Diners can rent or buy their own butane gas stove ($20) and 28cm pot ($15) and host their own hot pot meal at home.

Meanwhile, Hong Shing restaurant has put its laid-off servers back to work by hiring them as the restaurant’s own delivery drivers.

Hong Shing owner Colin Li said restaurants need to be flexible in order to survive under the new conditions.

“You just have to find ways to adapt now, because customers’ behaviours have changed and we need to target them differently,” said Li. “You have to be creative because we don’t know how long we have to do this.”

Heeding the drive to be innovative is Peking duck specialist QJD which has made box lunches and many of its signature dishes available for home delivery.

Many online services are offering promotions to aid restaurants during the crisis.

Uber Eats announced it will be waiving delivery fees from independent restaurants and instituting daily payments. Door Dash has said it will not collect service fees for 30 days from newly-joined restaurants. As well, Yelp is offering $100 in free search advertising to all restaurant clients that offer delivery and takeout.

Help is coming from within the restaurant industry as well.

Miss Thing restaurant owner Nav Sangha is graciously offering to help local restaurants develop websites with take-out and delivery functionality.

“My team and I are currently volunteering our services to create websites and upgrades for restaurants and other retailers that are trying to make the transition to online sales free of charge,” wrote Sangha on Instagram.

And yet, despite these many initiatives, they may not be enough.

Benson Lau, a business development director for Japanese souffle pancake shop Fuwa Fuwa, expressed uncertainty despite his restaurant’s recent adoption of delivery service.

“If this shutdown goes longer than two months, I don’t think most restaurants will survive,” said Lau. “If takeout doesn’t take off, it might not even be a month.”

The sentiment is echoed by Yueh Tung Restaurant manager Joanna Liu, whose restaurant has experienced an 80 percent drop in sales since they were forced to shut down its dine-in service. Although Liu’s restaurant is also looking to create its own home delivery system, Liu says the severe drop in business may be fatal for her restaurant.

“We will not be able to bounce back if we have to shut down while continuing to pay all our expenses in full,” said Liu. “If relief doesn’t come, it’s hard to say whether or not we’ll be able to take this hit.”

“My mom and dad are very terrified,” she added.

The pandemic has made an impact throughout the entire Canadian restaurant industry. According the OpenTable reservation app, Canada has seen a 47 per cent drop in dinner reservations in comparison to last year as of March 15.

All the same, diners can be confident that home delivery is safe. Infectious disease specialists say the risk of contracting COVID-19 from restaurant-delivered food is “extraordinarily small.”

Diners should practice physical distancing, refrain from using cash, and can opt for a “contactless” option now available by food delivery services such as DoorDash, Foodora, and Skip The Dishes.


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