By the end of March, the drastic effects of COVID-19 on Toronto had taken form. The Ontario government has ordered the closure of all non-essential workplaces and is urging people to stay inside their homes. Parks, stores, bars have all closed.
Toronto restaurants, however, for the most part have remained open. They are no longer allowed to seat guests, but can instead make food for takeout or delivery. Many have downloaded delivery apps or come up with innovative ways to quickly hand food off to takeout guests. It may not be the safest option in the time of quarantine, but for many restaurants, it’s their only choice.
Most restaurants operate on very slim margins. The costs of running a service business in the saturated Toronto market are very high, not to mention the current rent crisis. The average rent for a 50-seat restaurant in Toronto is just under $5000 a month. With the rule of thumb dictating rent should never exceed 10 percent of sales, that’s half a million dollars in revenue expected. Needless to say, the luxury of closing for worker safety just isn’t on the table for many. Many have been forced to cut staff or limit their hours, making meeting that rent all the more difficult.
What this means for the fortunate rest of us, is to support our local restaurants. Especially with the growing lines outside grocery stores and markets, why not decide to walk in for takeout or order delivery from your favourite spots. Many traditional sit-down restaurants have adapted their menus to feature takeout options, so you may even have the chance to dine elegantly in your own home.
Of course, there is the question of safety. Many places are taking extra precautions, limiting contact and amount of people in close proximity. You can wear gloves to use the debit machine, wipe down the takeout plastics, wash your hand before eating. The risks are similar to going to the grocery store, which many of us continue to do. Some restaurants have begun bringing takeout directly to your car, with zero human contact.
Remember, restaurant owners and workers are just as worried about COVID-19 as you, the only difference is they don’t have a choice to be there.
These businesses need our help to remain open. Think of your favorite places, probably operating at a fraction of the revenue, many wondering whether they will be able to survive this hit. It is the time to repay our neighborhood business for everything they provide us, and work together to get through this thing. Tonight, try takeout.