poet cafe toronto

This is how one Toronto restaurant is cutting costs and waste to stay in business

The Poet Cafe in Toronto has launched a daily rotating menu as a response to the current crisis, in an effort to cut costs, eliminate waste, and stay in business — customers can order from the menu and have their food delivered to them at home.

The Persian restaurant and cafe’s Pandemic Special is owner Amir Samimi’s new solution to the current challenges of staying in business at a time when everyone has been advised to stay home and self-isolate.

Samimi advises customers to put in their order the day before so they can have their desired day’s menu item delivered to them in the evening the next day.

“We were working with DoorDash and Ritual prior to this,” Samimi said. “And we couldn't keep up [...] because I don't have any staff here. And at the same time, our food was going bad.”

The restaurant is now offering free delivery within a one kilometre radius of the restaurant, Samimi says, and he will not just be preparing the food himself, but he will also be carrying out the deliveries personally in his own car.

“I can't hire anyone, I can't ask my previous staff to come in, because there's no guarantee there's going to be any money,” he said.

He prepares the food from scratch based on the orders he receives the day before. “If I prep from the morning, I end up throwing out a lot of food at the end of the day that doesn't get used,” Samimi said.

Samimi is aware there are food shortages in certain parts of the city, especially when it comes to donations going into food banks, and “the last thing you want to do is to waste food,” he says.

So he buys only the amount of food and ingredients he knows he will need based on the orders that came in the previous day.

If someone lives outside of Samimi’s reach, they are welcome to come to the restaurant to pick up their orders, he says.

“That's the only thing I could come up with in order to do some business during these times,” he said.

The Poet Cafe turned 3 years old just a week ago! We wish this was a cause for celebration. 2020 had a promising start for us and as you all know it all took a turn for the worst towards the end of February. In hospitality industry it does not matter how successful, new or old your business is! If we can’t make any money for a whole month, we will simply not recover from that. In this industry we are making money today to pay for the expenses of two weeks ago and that goes for everybody. The number of people who are directly or indirectly employed by hospitality industry is staggering and over 80% of them are living paycheck to paycheck. The Poet Cafe’s family is no different! For now we hope the government delivers on their promises and we hope to be able to once again serve you here at our house of love. . Kind regards Amir & The Poet family❤️ . . . #thepoetto #torontofood #torontolife #tofood #torontoblogger #foodporn #toronto_insta #torontonightlife #mediterranean #exploretoronto #tobloggers #brunch #covid_19 #restaurantindustry #canada🇨🇦

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This has only been the first week of Samimi’s Pandemic Special, it launched on Monday, and Samimi is cautiously hopeful about the future.

Samimi is aware that times are tough for everyone, not just restaurant owners. “There's very little revenue coming in,” he says. “I feel like that's because a lot of people don't even have an income right now.”

But at the end of the day, he is hopeful. “I am optimistic that [this] will be over within a month, maximum two months, and hopefully, the restaurants who can survive this a couple of months, they'll be back up and running and people would support us again and come in and have their dining experience,” he said.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez


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