Advancing the conversation on land and real estate issues in BC.
BC’s restaurants fight to survive the pandemic. Credit: istock/yacobchuk
To survive the pandemic, restaurants have sought to innovate. Many restaurants started to offer all-inclusive meal kits and cocktail kits for delivery, and virtual at-home cooking classes, in addition to increasing their capacity for delivery orders. Governments have supported the sector, with municipalities expediting patio licensing requests, for example, and the BC Government imposing a cap of 20% on delivery fees (which had been as high as 30%) to help the industry make some margin on delivery sales. The government also approved the sale of liquor with take-out and delivery orders.
Throughout the fall of 2021, BC’s vaccination card program brought people back to restaurants. Despite this, many restaurants continue to operate with reduced hours and streamlined menus while they grapple with a labour crisis.
Some restaurants closed, of course, but many are still here, and new ones continue to open.
“Today, there is renewed interest and investment into the industry as the pandemic has created opportunities,” explains Ian Tostenson of BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association. “Investors are looking at suburban and urban residential areas as the downtown opportunities are limited largely due to empty office spaces and the lack of tourism, conferences, and cruise ships…. Investors are looking at real estate with attractive outdoor space and easy access for delivery drivers. We recently viewed a diagram of the ideal restaurant of the future: it was less than 3,500 square feet, had dedicated space for indoor dining, a separate area for take-out and delivery, and, of course, space for a large patio.”
The newer concept of ghost kitchens has allowed some restaurants to continue to operate with reduced costs, or start-ups to do just that. “Commercial kitchens are being set up in cost-effective areas to make food for the home-delivery market,” says Tostenson. “Typically, the occupancy and labour costs of these businesses are significantly lower than a standard restaurant. Vancouver is even seeing ghost kitchens being established in some empty parking buildings.”
|Download Fall 2021|
To read more about Tostenson’s perspective on the restaurant industry, see “The Fall and Rise of Restaurants in a Pandemic,” in the Fall 2021 edition of Input. Download Fall 2021
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