1st National ‘TakeoutDay’ Launches to Support Foodservice Industry in Canada

A national initiative has been launched to help save the foodservice industry in Canada that has been decimated by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

On Wednesday the first national #TakeoutDay is encouraging people to order from their favourite local restaurant to help support the hundreds of restaurant owners who have been hit hard during this crisis.

People are encouraged to visit CanadaTakeout.com for more information on how Canadians can support their local restaurants and they are encouraged to make every Wednesday #TakeoutDay.

“Restaurants are vital to the social and economic fabric of communities across Canada, but operating a foodservice business is tough, even in the best of times,” said Shanna Munro, President and CEO of Restaurants Canada.

“Not only was our industry among the first to feel the impacts of COVID-19, we’ve been one of the hardest hit so far, with nearly two thirds of our workforce now lost. We would love to see Canadians embrace #TakeoutDay and support those restaurants who are still able to operate through takeout or delivery.”

Pay Chen, a spokesperson for the concept, said many similar smaller initiatives were starting up in different cities rallying to support local restaurants.

“This became a great way to make it one initiative nationally. It’s restaurateurs. It’s chefs. It’s suppliers. So it’s a lot of people who are connected to the restaurant industry,” said Chen.

“The ultimate goal is just to get people to think about supporting their local restaurant. It could be a favourite restaurant. Maybe the new place you’ve never tried. Because there’s just so many people who are employed and affected by the changes in the restaurant industry. With Canada being so large and so diverse and unique especially, it’s something that people can easily think about supporting and getting behind.”

She said the initiative will continue on because the restaurant industry is likely to be impacted for weeks and months being closed during the pandemic.

Coast to coast, hundreds of Canada’s favourite food personalities are actively involved including, chef Vikram Vij (Vancouver), maître fromager Afrim Pristine (Toronto), and chef Connie DeSousa (Calgary). They’re encouraging Canadians to share this campaign across social media with #TakeoutDay.

“There has never been a time like this, never been a bigger challenge for the restaurant industry. The greatest thing you can do is on April 15th, support your local restaurant by doing takeout,” said Mark McEwan, chef restaurateur, who also created this video along with coast to coast culinary leaders.

As part of the initiative, Canada’s Great Kitchen Party – Home Edition will be virtually entertaining people in their homes with some of the country’s best musicians, comedians, athletes, and chefs in a special show of support.

“For years we have been bringing some of Canada’s best chefs, athletes, and musicians together under one umbrella, and in times like this, it is impressive to see so many of the artists and athletes we work with, come forward to help local restaurants stay open,” said KP Co-Founder Karen Blair.

Shows will take place April 15, April 22 and April 29 at 8 p.m. EST and be hosted by George Stroumboulopoulos.

Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo, Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies, Tom Cochrane, Barney Bentall, and Sam Roberts will perform on Canada’s Great Kitchen Party- Home Edition, with more drop-ins being announced weekly. Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea and the Alan Doyle Band, said that he is “looking forward to bringing some Newfoundland Kitchen Party spirit to Takeout Day to help restaurants here in St John’s and across Canada.”

Olympic gold medalist Tessa Virtue, Olympic silver medalist Curt Harnett, and Paralympic multi-medalist Benoit Huot are scheduled to make appearances – with many others in the weeks to come.

Restaurants Canada estimates 800,000 foodservice jobs have already been lost as the industry has also lost about $4 billion in sales in March. If conditions don’t improve, the organization says foodservice sales could be down nearly $20 billion for the second quarter of this year.

More troubling is that a survey by the organization indicates nearly one out of 10 restaurants have already closed permanently and another 18 percent will permanently close within a month if current conditions continue.

Restaurants Canada data shows: 53 percent of restaurants are temporarily closed; 46 percent of those still operating have reduced their operating hours; the 800,000 people who have lost their jobs represent two thirds of the foodservice workforce; four out of five restaurants have laid off staff; if conditions don’t improve, seven out of 10 restaurants still open will further reduce staff or working hours for staff; and Canada’s $93 billion foodservice industry represents four percent of the country’s GDP.

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He now works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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