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The Evolving Role of Restaurants

While the global pandemic is not yet over, at the time of writing, Canada’s high rate of vaccination and overall declining COVID-19 case count means there’s finally some light at the end of the tunnel. Despite nearly two years of devastating closures and restrictions, staff layoffs and shortages and rising food prices, there’s a small but growing sense of optimism about the future in the foodservice sector. As what we hope was the worst of the crisis recedes, Restaurants Canada asked leading restaurateurs how they coped and what they’re planning for this next stage.

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Antoinette’s Restaurant, Whitehorse, Yukon

Up in Whitehorse, Yukon, James Concepcion’s biggest change wasn’t technology-based at all. Concepcion bought Antoinette’s Restaurant in March of 2021. Though closed due to COVID-19 at the time of the purchase, the restaurant was an established presence in Whitehorse. His major change? “I put up a billboard with photos of all the dishes. It’s not beautiful, but it works.” The photos had an immediate impact on web traffic. “Even locals had thought the restaurant was still closed.” Other successful changes included expanding some sections of the menu and offering Sunday brunch choices from around the world. “People couldn’t travel during the pandemic. In my restaurant, you can travel the world in 60 minutes. Sunday is a quiet time in Whitehorse, but people make reservations two weeks in advance. Curious people who would never have come before.”

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