lazy daisy cafe

Toronto restaurants that initially closed are reopening to try to survive the pandemic

Some Toronto restaurants are opening back up to offer takeout and delivery in hopes this will help keep them afloat admit the pandemic. 

Owner of Chuck's Roadhouse Bar and Grill, Dhaval Thakkar, says he initially thought the pandemic would just be a temporary blip.

"We had shut our door thinking things will come back to normal in [the] short-term but this uncertainty is killing us," he wrote in an email.  

But after a month of having their doors closed and no end in sight things stopped looking temporary. 

"There's no evidence that the economy will open up like tomorrow.
What I'm understanding is this is going to be a long-term thing and we won’t survive if we continue with our current model," he said in a telephone interview. 

"We've only been in business for 6 months it makes our struggle more dire. For new business owners like myself it's a matter of selecting livelihood or my own life. We're in a catch-22 situation." 

The franchise restaurant was formerly a dine-in only type establishment but on Friday Thakkar decided to start offering delivery, takeout and meal kit options. 

But he admits the decision to re-open didn't come easily. 

"Small business owner like us, we never wanted to go that route. 
Our customers will be penalized," he suggests.

He explains that UberEats and SkipTheDishes take a significant cut from their profits, which means he will have to either raise the menu prices or take even more of a hit financially. 

And other options, such as government or insurance bail outs haven't been provided yet. So while he waits for some relief re-opening is the only way he can continue to pay his bills and keep his lights on for his wife and five year old child. 

"We have no choice. We need community support here. It's the only way we can survive," he said.

But Thakkar isn't the only one who's decided to pivot their business model and re-open. 

Dawn Chapman, who owns Lazy Daisy's Cafe, also made some significant changes to her business model.

"When the landlord said we weren't getting any rent relief I didn't want to give up," she said. 

In just a few short weeks the cafe added  new plexiglass barriers at the barista window as well as a separate ‘barn door’ window for customers to pay for their order.

The cafe has also added a general store to provide groceries to the community. 

"I had to think what people needed and tried to fill those needs," Chapman said. 

She explained that she had been hearing people complain about the long lines at grocery stores when all they wanted was a bag of milk. 

"And I thought I'm already getting all those things! So we pivoted and translated it over to something that's more for now," she said. 

While they've only been open for a few days, business has been great so far. Chapman says that on their first day they got over 60 orders online through their website, along with plenty of UberEats orders and some walk-ins. 

"It's certainly been an interesting journey but now I feel confident I can pay rent," she said. 

"I've been so appreciative of the community and all the supportive comments and how willing people are to support local." 

In the meantime, the government announced earlier this week that it's expanding the loan program for businesses applying for relief. 

Lead photo by

Lazy Daisy's Cafe

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