Two big questions face Burnaby restaurants as phase two of B.C.’s Restart Plan unfolds.
How can restaurants reassure diners that all precautions are being taken? And are there enough people ready to have a sit-down mean in a restaurant.
Well, one Burnaby dim sum restaurant has set a template for other restaurants to follow as they scramble to reopen in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lee Garden Seafood Restaurant on Kingsway in Burnaby is receiving praise for both its food and its approach to reopening.
I spotted some photos and tweets by one of my favourite journalists – and Twitter follows - Joanna Chiu, ace reporter for the Toronto Star. (You can read about her and her incredible work here.)
Chiu dined at Lee Garden and expressed the sort of relief at eating this Cantonese comfort food that felt cathartic while just reading. We’ve all been cooped up so long that reading about having a nice meal out just feels so right.
And, according to Chiu, Lee Garden is doing things the right way, with staff wearing masks and the entire restaurant reconfigured to ensure plenty of physical distance from other diners.
“Lots of empty space between the tables and servers all wearing masks and gloves,” Chiu tweeted.
And based on the photos, plenty of diners turned out to support this Burnaby restaurant. That’s good news for any restaurant considering how and when to reopen.
There is clearly an, ahem, appetite to go back to sit-down meals in restaurants. It won’t feel the same as before, but it’s a start. Restaurants, even when reopening, will see their revenues drop from before because they will have fewer tables available.
There will also be fewer diners because many people have lost their jobs, while others will still wait things out due to health concerns. Then you also have to factor in increased costs of PPE for all of the staff and a reported hike in food costs from suppliers.
These things all add up.
I’m itching to go out and eat, but my better half is still requiring more convincing. I’m respecting these wishes and when we are not cooking for ourselves, we’re doing take-out meals to support local eateries.
It really is a tough call.
But I’m happy to see Lee Garden getting off to a good start. I hope the same happens for others.
Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.