Toronto restaurants bracing for surge in delivery order demand this weekend
The hullabaloo of Super Bowl 2021 is just days away and it's shaping up to be a busy one for Toronto restaurants.
It won't be the usual NFL season-ender we're used to—no live broadcasts or Toronto businesses jampacked with Chiefs or Buccaneers fans.
But the stay-at-home order has forced Toronto's usual Super Bowl haunts to switch gears from dine-in to takeout orders. Some say it'll be a challenge to make the unprecedented pivot for this weekend's rush.
"With everything going on this year it’s a completely different ball game—no pun intended," say Colby Kriegl and Meagan Larman, owner and manager of the Etobicoke pub T.J. O'Shea's Irish Snug.
"This is something we have not really been accustomed to. We are pumping out more takeout food then we ever have," they said.
"It’s only the two of us right now... So we have to be on the ball."
To manage the load, T.J. O'shea's is rewarding customers who pre-order their meals before Sunday with a raffle entry for a Molson Canadian prize pack. They're also setting up pick-up times, to keep crowding at bay.
The Crooked Cue is doing the same: The Etobicoke bar's Super Bowl box deal is only available through pick-up. They've also made their Super Bowl special as easy to prepare as possible, to "ease the stress on our kitchen."
And rather than having the usual two employees on deck, Crooked Cue will have five to six staff on hand this Sunday to handle all the specials and a la carte orders coming in.
"I'm not sure yet how many orders will be anticipating but we have already had many inquiries regarding advanced ordering and pre-orders already placed for Sunday," says general manager Jennifer Stark.
Business owners say it's a matter of thinking on their feet while adjusting to new normals.
Little Italy cafe Barocco x Nino is also running a Super Bowl Promo Menu. The last day to order was supposed to be Thursday, but Barocco president Bruno Colozza says they've extended the deadline to this Friday instead.
"The pandemic has made it impossible to predict customer buying patterns," said Colozza. "It's a constant evaluation of the time of year, the weather, the latest news on COVID-19, the overall morale of the media, etc."
But with the rise of takeout comes new opportunities to engage customers that, in other years, might not have seen the Super Bowl as a special event.
The new pantry and multi-restaurant concept Ration Food Lab, operating out of the Beverly Hotel, has partnered with Nick Liu of DaiLo to make a Super Bowl burger combo. It includes a Big Mac Bao by Chef Liu and a double patty burger from Ration chef Jef Edwards.
They're only running 100 Big Mac Baos for the weekend. According to Ration Food Lab founder Wesley Barber, the collaboration is meant to kick off future events to come.
"As far as the Super Bowl goes, we look at the Super Bowl as a virtual event," says Barber. "And these kind of events are the only way we can do anything resembling a gathering (online) and do something exciting and different for our customers in today's current climate."
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