Some health and safety changes at BC restaurants that have been implemented over the past two years may outlast the pandemic.
That’s according to BC Restaurant and Food Services Association President and CEO Ian Tostenson.
He mentioned takeout and delivery will also be a big part of the picture going forward.
“We are going to have to be really seamless when it comes to the take and delivery model. It was maybe 12% of the business before the pandemic and now it is trending between 30 and 40% of our business – it’s not going away because people know we can deliver the goods.”
“Patios are also going to be really important because they kind of grew up when indoor dining was shut down.”
As of October, BC restaurants were short 29-thousand workers, however, Tostenson believes that figure is closer between 35 and 40-thousand.
“It’s still a lot of people. One of the things we are going to do is start talking about how restaurants are a great first job and a great place to work with lots of flexibility. We want to start to encourage people that may not have thought about restaurants and certainly talk to people’s parents about what a great place for people when we are pretty stable right now,” said Tostenson.
Tostenson also stated plexiglass dividers could also be part of the “new normal”.
“Plexiglass may be one of those things that stays because the consumers have a little bit more privacy. That’s the type of thing that might endure.”
The restaurant industry has faced its fair share of challenges over the past 24 months, dealing with scenarios like capacity restrictions, reduced hours of operations, staff layoffs, and supply chain issues due to major flooding and weather events in the southern part of the province.
Whatever the case may be, Tostenson believes a promising not-to-distant future is on the horizon once the Omicron wave subsides.
“I think the industry will come back. By spring and early summer will be charging ahead given with what we are seeing now with Omicron and high vaccination.”
“I think we are looking pretty good for the future.”