Lockdown has been hard on Toronto, especially local restaurants and bars. As we enter the second phase of closures, many businesses are reduced to takeout-only offerings, or closing their doors again until further notice.
Swan Dive, a Dundas Street West favourite, has been running pop-ups on weekends to help support other struggling Toronto businesses, renting out space for free to combine their takeout beer options with local food selections. The new lockdown thwarted their initiative though, and prevented passersby from being drawn to either brand and walking in. It put Swan Dive in trouble.
Over the last weekend of November, Swan Dive issued a plea on Instagram, announcing they would be hibernating for a few months. But, they needed help before they did it. The bar had a relatively large stock of beers, they said, and they wanted to sell them all out over the course of the Nov. 28 weekend. They needed to sell out, they said, to help with rent payments during their hibernation period.
And, Toronto showed up.
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People began resharing the bar’s Instagram plea, urging their followers to help. And it worked. On Nov. 28 alone, Swan Dive sold out about half of their stock between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. when the bar was open. The affordable prices included $5.50 for Stiegl and $7 for Collective Arts ciders, and Swan Dive still held their last pop-up shop, hosting Vegana Italiana within the space to help promote the Italian takeaway company.
The plight of Swan Dive was even featured in an article on CNN.com.
Torontonians who purchased continued to showcase their support on Instagram. The momentum didn’t die, and Swan Dive posted consistent updates on Instagram for onlookers and potential shoppers.
It worked. Swan Dive sold out over the course of the weekend. And the bar credits Torontonians with saving them from being a quarantine casualty. Swan Dive also continues to support other local businesses on their Instagram page.
It wasn’t the first time locals stepped in to show their support, though.
A few days earlier, DaddyO’s Pasta and Salads, located at 673 Spadina Ave., posted a similar plea. They needed people to order takeout pasta so that they could stay afloat. Once again, Toronto answered the call, posting pictures of their takeout on Instagram and urging people to try some of the delicious pasta. DaddyO’s even started a “DaddyO’s feeds the downtown” initiative, collecting donations so that they could bring trays of pasta to the homeless shelters and frontline workers across the city.
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Again, support poured in for the Spadina staple. A University of Toronto hockey team even donated $700 to keeping DaddyO’s afloat as a thank you for the support over the years. Uber Eats orders and takeout orders poured in, and DaddyO himself, Jeff, hopped onto Instagram to thank locals for the support. He, too, keeps everyone updated on Instagram, and says he will fight hard to keep doing what he loves.
Toronto has, sadly, seen many casualties throughout the pandemic, but locals are trying their hardest to save the city’s small businesses.