Every year, the City of Toronto helps promote restaurants through its Winterlicious and Summerlicious programming. This year, Winterlicious is on hold due to COVID-19 despite the devastating impact of the pandemic on Toronto restaurants.
“As a result of the pandemic, Winterlicious will not be held this year. However, the city continues to examine how it can best support Toronto’s restaurant sector and promote Toronto as a culinary destination when it is safe to do so again,” said Erin George, a city spokesperson. “This includes a review of how to make the Winterlicious and Summerlicious programs as impactful as possible to help the industry address the lingering effects of the pandemic.”
More than 200 restaurants participated in Winterlicious 2020, and the event is usually a big money-maker for the hospitality industry. The closure of restaurant dining rooms makes programs like this one more difficult, but not impossible.
La Poutine Week recently went virtual across the country with much success. New York City turned its famed Restaurant Week into Restaurant Week To Go by encouraging the more than 600 participating restaurants to offer prix-fixe takeout menus — the program drew record-breaking numbers of participating restaurants prompting expansion into February.
Some neighbourhoods across the globe are skirting city restaurant campaigns entirely and creating neighbourhood-centric restaurant weeks, including the Brooklyn borough of Prospect Heights that recently launched a highly successful Facebook group-based restaurant week.
While Toronto is not following suit by pivoting to a Winterlicious takeout option, the city recommends that residents look to Destination Toronto’s ToGoToronto.com campaign for restaurants offering takeout and delivery meals.
“Restaurants are encouraged to participate in Destination Toronto’s current ToGoToronto.com campaign and sign up for this free, promoted online listing. On this site, residents can find restaurants that are open for safe takeout and delivery and support their favourite local restaurant when possible,” George explained.
The city is also working on revised CaféTO plans that are likely to move forward this summer with the hopes of helping struggling restaurant owners.
“The City of Toronto is doing everything it can,” said George, “often in partnership with other levels of government as well as the business and non-profit sectors, to support local businesses and residents through the COVID-19 pandemic.”