toronto restaurant closings rasa

Some Toronto restaurants and food shops are starting to shut down takeout operations

Moves come in an effort to keep employees safe

With the latest stay-at-home order in effect, Torontonians’ dining options have been limited to delivery and takeout, similar to the measures enacted over the December holidays and at the beginning of the pandemic last year.

This time, though, with COVID-19 cases soaring to record highs across the province, restaurant and food shop owners and managers are taking extra precautionary measures to ensure the safety of their staff. And that has led to a new trend that sees restaurants and other food operations shutting down takeout and delivery operations.

The latest is midtown’s Summerhill Market, a popular and growing food shop, which issued a message on social media yesterday stating that it was slowing down operations at its off-site commissary location because the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has made it “too challenging to provide a safe work environment for our staff and their families.”

 

 

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A post shared by Summerhill Market (@summerhillmkt)

 

The statement on Summerhill Market’s Instagram feed goes on to explain that they will be rebuilding with a much smaller team with enhanced safety measures once it is safe to do so. Retail locations, where rapid testing of employees has been implemented, have been unaffected. However, the message does state that some product shortages are expected.

Down the street, Leaside’s popular Olde Yorke Fish & Chips, has closed for the month of April to keep their staff members safe.

“We’re hoping that, during this time, our staff can get a vaccination, seeing as they are frontline workers,” states the message on the restaurant’s voicemail. “Hopefully, when the numbers come down and the staff get a vaccination, we can open at the end of April.”

The Leaside restaurant is owned and operated by the Feather family, who are taking a proactive stance in light of the rapid increase in new cases across the city.

The Feathers are not the only people choosing to shut down takeout operations at their restaurant. Adrian Niman and Adam Minster of The Food Dudes also ceased takeout operations for two of their restaurants, Sara and Rasa.

 

 

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A post shared by RASA (@rasarestaurantto)

 

“Throughout the pandemic, safety for our staff and customers has always been the most important concern for us as a restaurant group. We followed all the rules and preventative measures at all our establishments,” Minster says.

“We decided to give our staff a much-deserved break for their mental health,” Niman adds, noting that takeout and delivery options were necessary to survive the last year, but constant changes in the rules have made The Food Dudes rethink their strategy.

Chef Ivan Castro also ceased all operations at his Mexican restaurant, La Bartola, which opened in Little Italy last summer, calling the most recent lockdown “financially, physically and emotionally crippling.”

“We know we’re strong, our team (our family) is fantastic, and we’ll rise back up,” read a post on the restaurant’s Instagram page. “But we need to retreat for a minute and tend to our wounds to come back stronger.”

Olde Yorke Fish & Chips, for one, is receiving support for their decision to close for employee safety.

 

 

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A post shared by Olde Yorke Fish & Chips (@oldeyorke)

 

“We sincerely hope you all remain safe. Kudos to you for taking this step to protect everyone! We look forward to supporting you upon return,” wrote one Facebook user on the restaurant’s page.

“Thank you for all that you and your staff do for the community. The best fish and chips anywhere,” wrote another. “We will be back when you are. Take care of yourselves and your families. Thanks for taking care of your staff.”

As it stands, restaurant employees are given priority in Phase Two of the province’s vaccination plan, which began in April, behind teachers and school staff, agriculture workers, border officers, funeral home staff and others.

But until then, the city might see more restaurants following this trend.

Article exclusive to TRNTO