toronto restaurants covid

Some restaurants in Toronto are switching back to takeout and delivery only

Some restaurants in Toronto are choosing to close for dine-in service on their own even without a mandate from the government to keep themselves and staff safe as COVID-19 numbers spike

Beast, Donna's, Grand Electric, Fox on John, all Kibo locations, Miss Pippa's and more have all announced they'll be rolling back to takeout, delivery and/or patio service only, forgoing dine-in. 

"Nate and I feel that with the increasing numbers and second spike in effect we need to continue to curb the spread and keep our staff safe," wrote Scott Vivian and Nathan Middleton of Beast in a statement.

"This will be the first week that we are closing the dining room, but we will still have the bodega open for groceries, bottle shop and takeout. Our patio is still open (weather permitting) for dine-in. We're hoping that our customers will continue to support us through our other channels like they have been since we reopened in May."

Fox on John actually took precautions to close for dine-in service before any of their staff were infected with COVID-19, and rightly so it turned out, as one of their employees tested positive soon after.

"At the time of posting, we had no positive confirmation of staff; however, we have one staff member that has tested positive. The exposure time frame currently is September 23 to 24. We chose to close as our team and guests' safety is of the utmost importance and the last day of service was September 28," says Pragash Sritharan, Fox On John Management.

"The staff did not contract COVID-19 at the Fox On John. For us to reopen, all staff, management, and ownership returning to work will have to be tested negative. We are and have been working with our Public Health inspector to ensure we are following all procedures. We will reopen when we have the go-ahead from TPH officer."

Sritharan says they've been adhering to all bylaws, including having all guests and staff complete a health log with temperature check, tables spaced apart with plexiglass, sanitation stations and sanitizing between guests. He also says the response from guests and staff to the decision to close for dine-in has been positive and supportive.

Few changes @misspippas effective immediately

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Miss Pippa's had their last day of dine-in service for the time being on Sept. 27. The charming coffee, flower and wine shop continues to operate on a takeout basis.

"With the current rise in COVID cases we just wanted to be cautious and do our best to protect our customers, staff and ourselves. With no dine in, masks are required to be worn by anyone who enters, so it's the safest way to operate at the moment," says Adam Moco of Miss Pippa's.

"The response from customers has been supportive and agreeing that it's the right move currently. We started as a one-stop-shop and continue to be that. Yes, we will lose some income by taking away dine in but we believe it's worth the loss for the safety of everyone."

The dining room at Donna's was last open on Sept. 26, with a meeting held on Monday after a significant spike in COVID-19 numbers where they decided to close it immediately. Their patio is still open, and they're allowing people to come inside only to use the washroom and pay.

"So far, we have only received positive feedback and messages of support. Our guests have been understanding. Our staff are also happy about the decision. After reopening we put all our staff on salary, so their income is much more stable even if sales are not," says Ann Kim of Donna's.

"We also offer all our staff paid sick leave for when they are not feeling well, or to cover days waiting for COVID test results. Thankfully, we haven't had anyone test positive for COVID."

They're also looking into expanding their business by producing wholesale items for coffee shops, preparing packaged foods for retail, and widening their bottle shop and takeout offerings, all in anticipation of a second lockdown. Places like Field Trip have already been stocking their sandwiches.

"We are counting on these little side hustles to make it through the winter, and next spring, when it's warm enough, we'll also try to do a series of pop-ups on friends' patios like the Shrimp's Corner event we did at Pompette in August," says Kim.

"Signing onto third party delivery apps like Uber or Skip the Dishes is also an option, but one that we are trying to avoid."

While suspending dine-in service and more restrictions at restaurants and bars may help curb the spread of COVID-19, we can all still do our best to support local businesses safely so our favourite spots in the city don't disappear.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez


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