This is what small restaurants think about reopening for dine-in service in Toronto
After the small space restaurant, Brothers, known for its wine and seasonal menus, announced its closing, it's forced other low capacity restaurants to take a closer look at the state of the world, business, and its place in the food industry in Stage 3 in Toronto.
Small space restaurants, especially ones without patios who weren't able to take advantage of Stage 2, will have a very tough time during Stage 3 when indoor dining is allowed but at limited capacity.
Uncle Mikey's is a quaint 25-seat restaurant on Dundas West trying to determine their post-pandemic fate.
The small space restaurant currently has no patio but has been doing takeout and delivery since the pandemic, to "make ends meet," the restaurant's owner and chef, Michael Kim said.
According to Kim, Stage 3 will require lots of pivoting for the Asian-inspired restaurant.
"Going back to what we were before is not sustainable, or, frankly, possible. Our profit margins were slim to begin with, and reduced capacity will not help us at all," Kim told blogTO.
"A new business plan needs to be adapted if we want to survive. Period."
Kim said restaurants provide culture and add to the identity of a city, especially small restaurants that take risks and cater to authenticity.
When asked about the future of Uncle Mikey's, Kim said he is willing to take a hit in the short term, as long as he can stay open, if it means longevity and "adding depth to our beautiful city."
He recognizes the amount of work and sacrifice it's going to take but sees a future for his restaurant in Toronto.
Vit Beo on Bloor Street West is known for staying open late and serving Vietnamese snack dishes but according to chef and owner, David Huynh, the future of their restaurant post-pandemic is "unclear."
"Going into lockdown has required some adjustments for everyone. We've scaled down our menu and have experimented with new things to pivot as best we could," Huynh told blogTO.
"Post-pandemic will require more of the same 'pivot pains.' Our business is small and is very much visited and revisited by locals," he said.
Vit Beo has been focusing on takeout and delivery during the pandemic but decided to not participate with the bigger "more ubiquitous third-party delivery apps and traded off visibility for a sustainable business partnership."
"We don’t pay commissions for orders so our customers can feel more secure that every dollar they spend with us stays within their local economy," said Huynh. "I drive the deliveries myself so our capacity to reach great distances is limited and our volume is limited."
Vit Beo does not have a patio and the small 16-seat restaurant is limited to six seats during Stage 3.
"So we aren't counting on Stage 3 to be a boon for a more profitable future," Huynh said.
Huynh's plan for his small business is to regrow and restructure to reflect the needs of their staff and community.
Huynh is optimistic about Vit Beo's fate and future and owes that to his "great staff and wonderful, supportive community."
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