Many Vancouver restaurants are thanking their brave feathered friends this weekend. Sales of take-out turkey dinners have soared from kitchens for a landmark vacation filled with new meaning as the beleaguered hospitality industry braces for an uncertain winter with a return to take-out and a myriad of innovations.
From the sumptuous Sage Roasted Turkey Breast from Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar with Madeira-flavored offal sauce to Juke Fried Chicken’s Southern Turducken meal kit with jalapeno cornbread, bacon jam, and instructional cooking videos – over a dozen festive home-tasting specialties (most being offered for the first time) sold out across town.
“It was crazy,” says Justin Cheung, chef-owner of the brand new Potluck Hawker Eatery on Cambie Street.
He and his partners expected to sell around 25 orders of their Coconut Milk Fried Whole Chicken, Singapore Black Pepper Crab, and Combination Surf and Turf Sets, which cost $ 130 to $ 200, feed four to six people and come up with all kinds. Southeast Asian street food including golden mantou buns and salted egg yolk polenta
On Wednesday, after already assigning a full-time staff member to field inquiries and canceling this weekend’s lunch service to make it easier to take care of clients, they topped out at 100.
“Maybe that’s because people don’t want to go to crowded grocery stores to line up for a turkey,” says Mr. Cheung, who is puzzled but grateful and is already planning his Christmas specials. But next time it will use a better control system.
“Turkey is a symbol of normalcy,” said Kevin Mazzone, managing director of restaurant company Lazy Gourmet, which on Thursday sold 1,163 orders of his classic lemon roasted turkey and beet Wellington. That’s more turkey (or its vegan equivalent) in a weekend than he sold for the whole of December of last year.
“And right now,” he continues, “everyone is looking for something to celebrate in this new normal, but on a smaller scale without their extended family and all the work that this type of turkey dinner entails.”
This year’s Thanksgiving weekend has become a turning point in the restaurant calendar of the COVID era, closer to Thanksgiving in the United States and its Black Friday shopping rash, which typically marks the start of the COVID season. Christmas.
With the late onset of rainy weather – as 28-day closures take effect in Quebec and daily reported COVID-19 cases in Ontario continue to skyrocket – Vancouver restaurants are closing their patios (including the winter’s future is still unpredictable, as managers and city council continue to unravel costs, safety protocols and necessary regulatory changes) and look into take-out or other new revenue streams to help them. to stay afloat, as well as others.
Not all restaurants have jumped on the turkey takeout bandwagon.
“It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to do everything to make it work without really moving forward,” says Karri Green-Schuermans, co-owner of Restaurant Chambar.
“Our take-out sales during the COVID shutdowns were dismal. It wasn’t even worth it because of the cost of delivering meals through DoorDash. We just did it to keep a few people working. We will not remain open to take out if there is another stop. And we don’t do a Thanksgiving special because it takes a lot of effort and energy. We also knew how many other people were doing it.
For now, she says, Chambar is focused on what it does best: “Providing exceptional restaurant service to the fewer people who choose to dine out.”
They are also working to scale their line of Into The Wild frozen meals, which are now available in-store at Choices and Stong’s and online through Legend’s Haul and SPUD.
“It doesn’t compensate for the loss of revenue” due to early shutdowns and reduced capacity, she said. “But it keeps growing.”
Restaurant owners across Vancouver are rethinking their business strategies.
On Main Street, Como Taperia is preparing to launch an online store through a new Shopify platform that will also offer food boxes filled with ready meals, canned preserves, specialty groceries and wine.
“Takeout doesn’t really work for our food,” says co-owner Shaun Layton. “But when we set up a grocery shelf in the restaurant, the takeout almost made up for the lost table. So if there is another stop, like in Quebec, between these kits and the online market, we could probably stay open and employ a few people.
The botanist, recently reopened at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel, just announced a new collaborative dinner series, Travel With Your Palate, which will host a team of all-stars of Vancouver’s top chefs to benefit the Vancouver Food and Beverage Community Relief Fund.
Paul Grunberg, owner of Caffè La Tana, has done a bit of both – high-end online groceries (“if the bottom falls again, we’re bulletproof”) and collaborations with friends, which this weekend includes hand-made bouquets of flowers from Cadine and classic pumpkin pies from the bakery Mon Pitou.
“We had a conversation about turkeys,” he says. “But why would that bother you?” Everyone makes turkey kits. And take-out, for us, is a losing proposition.
Collaborations, he says, aren’t really profitable either. “We did a lot of campaigns with ‘influencers’. And we gave a lot of products to unemployed chefs.
“It didn’t result in a lot of traffic. But that’s not what it is. It’s about trying to be socially aware in a really tough time when community is more important than ever. I don’t know if we had this before the pandemic and maybe that is the silver lining. It’s not so much about collaboration as it is about taking care of your friends. “
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