Sugo doing delivery in Toronto after focusing efforts on feeding others for free
Rejoice, Italian food lovers. Sugo, one of the city's most popular red sauce joints, has finally launched delivery with Uber Eats — albeit very, very begrudgingly.
"I’d way rather stay closed at this time, just out of respect for the vulnerable people in this community," said Sugo's owner, Conor Joerin.
"But we sort of don't have a choice, we have such a high overhead, we had to get some cash flow in."
"We were toying around with the idea of doing takeout... by the time [March 16] rolled around, I just didn't feel comfortable."
But Sugo's kitchen hasn't been completely inactive since then: for the past month, Joerin has been busy turning unused food stock, worth tens of thousands of dollars, to make hot meals for food banks, hospitals like St. Joseph's and Sick Kids, and groceries to food banks and local families in need.
With the help of a group hilariously self-coined The Marinara Boys, comprised of Sugo and the owners of Famiglia Baldassarre, Bar Ape, and Sovereign Cafe, Joerin was able to ramp up production, and so far they've done two dozen grocery-drop offs.
Now, they're mostly focusing on frontline health care workers: Sunday they'll be doing a drop-off at CAMH, followed by Princess Margaret Hospital on Monday, and Toronto Police 51 Division sometime next week.
Joerin says they've delivered about 3,000 prepared meals so far, not including all the grocery drops.
"It's been a lot," he says.
Now he's opened Sugo back up, which is great for meatball lovers, but an unfortunate necessity for Joerin, who says he'd rather concentrate on charity but has to find a way to put a dent in $25,ooo-worth of rent for five different leases, and $12,000 in monthly debt payments.
But without the commercial rent relief that restaurants citywide are calling for, the delivery to customers will have to happen simulatenously with the community work too.
"I've never been a fan of Uber, I have a problem with them because they make money off an unfair business model," he says. "But once we saw where we were at financially, we knew we had to at least try delivery."
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