Delivery and takeout businesses soar during pandemic
VICTORIA -- The pandemic has taken a bite out of many Victoria restaurants’ bottom lines, but not all eateries are suffering.
In fact, George Papaloukas, who owns Hot House Pizza, says his four pizza parlours are perfectly positioned for the pandemic, because they rely heavily on take out and delivery.
He says his restaurants never closed their doors, even back in March, and revenue is now higher than ever, with delivery and takeout orders bustling.
“We’re the busiest we’ve ever been, seriously,” Papaloukas tells CTV News Vancouver Island.
For many restaurants where dining in is the focus, though, times have been tough.
David Craggs owns 3 restaurants in downtown Victoria, including Ferris’ Grill & Garden Patio.
He says restrictions on capacity due to physical distancing, as well as a decline in customers’ desire to dine in, have hurt revenue.
Craggs notes that his restaurants have installed comprehensive partitions between tables, and his staff now all wear masks, but customers remain reluctant to eat out in the same numbers they did prior to the pandemic.
“We’re probably operating at about 50 per cent our normal business, which I guess we should be thankful for,” Craggs says.
Ian Tostenson is the head of B.C.’s Restaurant Association.
He told CTV News Wednesday that despite recent notifications of COVID-19 exposures at three restaurants in Greater Victoria, people need to remember that a few isolated cases are to be expected, but don’t mean customers are unsafe.
Still, he strongly recommends masks for all servers at restaurants, to instill consumer confidence.
“We put a recommendation out to the industry that servers should wear masks,” Tostenson said. “They don’t have to wear masks, but it’s a consumer confidence situation now.”
For those restaurants focused on delivery and takeout, servers are not a big part of their operation.
And Papaloukas says that despite how well his business is doing, the success of the Vancouver Canucks means things might get even better, with sports fans ordering more pizza delivered during a long playoff run.
“It’s great news for us,” he says. “Back when they were in the Stanley Cup run in 2011, we were very busy, so (we’re) hoping that continues.”
Meanwhile, most conventional restaurants simply hope customers continue to grow more confident dining in.