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When Cathedral Social Hall shut its doors last week due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mike Tate had a couple of options for its leftover food.
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The Regina restaurant chose to donate its leftovers to the Regina & District Food Bank, which became 241 pounds richer as a result.
“I think right now is a more important time than ever to look to our community and try to act like a leader,” said Tate.
“Yes, we could sell this. Yes, there’s other options to get some much needed funds into our account. But we’ve chosen to step up and almost treat it like a challenge to the rest of the community.”
Food bank CEO John Bailey said other local restaurants and food services, including the Broken Rack, Queensbury Centre and Compass Group, have donated to the food bank in light of mandatory restaurant closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Cumulatively, we’re talking thousands of pounds,” said Bailey, of mostly perishable goods.
“We’ve been really, really lucky to have a lot of great people thinking of those in need, as they make some really hard choices … They’re happy to help but, I mean, the reason they’re doing this is because people are getting laid off. So it’s a really tough spot for some of these business owners,” added Bailey.
“These are not easy days for people, especially if you run a restaurant or food services or any kind of small business in our town.”
That’s the case for Tate’s restaurant, which had to lay off staff.
“We would have loved to have kept them working, of course, but it’s just not the reality of a restaurant,” he said. “Ultimately, it’s a transactional business. And without transactions, you don’t have a business, right?”
The provincial government is currently allowing restaurants the option of doing take out, so long as there is two-metre distancing between customers during pickup.
Leopold’s Tavern did that for a few days, before the government officially required restaurants to close on Monday.
That used up most of their perishable food supply.
“We would have loved to have helped health care workers, or donated to others who are working hard daily during these times, but we simply didn’t have enough product or available staff to execute that,” Matt Pinch, CEO of Leo’s Group, stated in an email.
“What little we did have left were made into care packages and given to our staff who are also very much in need at this time.”
Leopold’s opted to close entirely, and has ceased doing takeout orders.
At Bushwakker, executive chef Mike Monette “had a pretty good idea that we would be closing temporarily so he cut back on his regular supply orders,” bar manager Grant Frew said in an email.
“He was able to extend the employment of some of the kitchen workers by having them process the perishables by turning fresh produce into sauces and purees and portioning meats for the freezer. Food losses were greatly minimized.”
At Avenue, “We’ve always kept our ordering pretty tight, so whatever we had, we processed by way of pickling, making flavoured oils, dehydrating, curing,” said head chef Chris Torjusen, in a Facebook message.
Leftovers after that were given to staff.