Toronto’s ban on indoor dining broke the world’s longest record, how the industry struggled to survive?

As Taiwan’s epidemic panic spreads in late May, Canada’s largest city, Toronto, has set a global record for the longest ban on indoor dining in a restaurant: more than 360 days. Many restaurant operators no longer know what is the point of holding on,” said Toronto Taiwanese business president Hong-Yi Hsu, who runs the restaurant business.

In an interview with the Central News Agency on the same day, Xu Hongyi since 1993 founded the “green nest” restaurant door glass smashed by curfew. He said helplessly, the Canadian epidemic so far more than a year, his three stores glass has been broken 6 times; the police also useless, there are surveillance cameras can not catch people; the only thing you can do is to hurry to find “has become an old friend” of the manufacturer to install the new glass, and continue to work hard.

The 2019 coronavirus disease (Chinese Communist Virus, COVID-19) epidemic has indeed made the curse more rampant, but what makes Xu Hongyi feel the most is the wave after wave of the epidemic ban, which changes depending on the number of people infected with the disease, and the government orders to shut down as soon as they say, and the caterers only have to do as they are told, and they are all hit hard.

The province of Ontario, where Toronto is located, has a population of about 14.75 million and is at the end of the third wave of the epidemic.

The number of confirmed cases in Ontario is decreasing dramatically as long-awaited vaccines are finally being delivered, more than 65% of adults have received at least their first dose of vaccine, and all residents over the age of 12 can register for the vaccine. The number of confirmed cases in a single day has dropped from more than 4,000 a day for several days in early April, when the health care system was on the verge of collapse, to more than 1,000 cases a day in the last few days.

Ontario is equivalent to the “closure” of the harsh “home order” after several extensions, June 2 is expected to be a limited “unblocked”; non-essential retail stores will be allowed to reopen at 15% capacity Restaurants are still banned from inside use, but outdoor dining areas will be allowed.

Visiting downtown Toronto, it is true that a small number of restaurants are reorganizing their long-closed alfresco seating areas in preparation for the “unsealing date”.

But in the “green nest” restaurant inside and outdoor area many times after opening and closing, Xu Hongyi on this reopening, decided to hold a wait-and-see attitude.

He said that the first two waves of the epidemic home order to lift the closure, he did look forward to reopen, the flow of customers back, but the province of Ontario several times to open and close, the restaurant suffered badly.

Xu Hongyi’s restaurant is now the main take-out, he said, the restaurant every time to re-arrange the human and material resources, every time off represents a waste of money spent for the reopening, the loss is more serious, now he is “tired of restarting the matter, would rather wait to determine the opening, the epidemic subsided, and then think about how to do.

Xu Hongyi also said that the third wave of the epidemic really affects a lot, many caterers have run out of money on hand at this time, “I do not know what the meaning of holding on?”

After all, the epidemic has been prolonged for 14 months, and the restaurants that have been able to transform and hold on to their take-out business are basically aiming to “lose less money”. Xu Hong Yi said he knows of some restaurants that have simply “cut their heads off” and closed down, so that when the epidemic is completely over, “it’s easier to start over again.

According to the Toronto Business Licensing Authority, between March 23, 2020 and March 23 of this year, the number of Toronto restaurants and bars that voluntarily cancelled their licences or failed to pay the annual licence renewal fee was 1,177, less than the average of 1,456 restaurants that closed their doors each year over the past 20 years. But industry sources say this is just an “illusion” in the face of the epidemic.

Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), said, “The epidemic has led to the emergence of a large number of ‘zombie businesses’ that are effectively dead and unable to operate and are now relying on government bailouts to keep them afloat. When the government bailout is over, we’ll see a lot of restaurant and bar closures.” The CFIB predicts that more than 30,000 restaurants and bars across Canada will close permanently after the epidemic, accounting for one-third of the total, and with the epidemic causing an average debt of $170,000 (about $140,000) per restaurant, many restaurants are bound to struggle to operate after the epidemic.

For Hsu, the biggest motivation for him and his partners to continue to struggle in the restaurant industry today is the fact that he signed a contract with Taiwan’s long-established restaurant operator “Du Xiaoyue” to develop an overseas brand before the outbreak began in Canada last March. “Du Xiaoyue” and “Green’s Nest” are scheduled to launch brand new stores in five cities in Ontario in late August and early September.

Xu Hongyi said: “After all, when the epidemic is over, everyone still has to go out to eat. When we can’t survive these days or get discouraged, the goal in our hearts will support us to keep going.”

In response to the demand for take-out-oriented business during the epidemic, Xu Hongyi has taken great pains to adapt his restaurant to set up a “get to speed” channel, taking into account safety and hygiene and efficiency; take-out packaging materials also take great pains to hope that when customers get their meals, they can also feel the restaurant’s brand image with care.

Xu Hongyi also said that in the past year or so, because the restaurant can not be used internally only packaged for take-out, the packaging materials market is simply “white hot”; he predicted that in the next three to five years, “take-out” will remain an important way to eat in people’s daily lives, and now “The most profitable industry in the world is probably the packaging material business”.

As for Taiwan is now in the epidemic, what advice to the catering industry? Xu Hongyi said, Taiwan’s current situation is indeed very similar to Canada last year when the epidemic first broke out; what friends in the restaurant industry can do now is really to “grit your teeth and endure”.

Hsu said that the world is suffering from the COVID-19 epidemic, and so is Taiwan. Fortunately, the vaccine has been developed, as long as the vaccine is accelerated, Taiwan should soon be out of the epidemic period of suffering, not like Toronto, eventually set a world record for the longest ban on indoor dining in restaurants.