Outdoor dining is making a (small) comeback in Toronto, while in Canada and globally we mark this as the 18th month of the Pandemic. There some capacity restrictions in Ontario which cause some dismay for restaurant owners and customers alike and are causing a lot of stir. Restaurants like Egg Club, the breakfast sandwich spot, is expanding to its third location, and the Tomyum Restaurant and Wine Bar opened up on the southern Bay, but at the same time 5 other restaurants in Toronto have shut down.
Many restaurants in the Toronto area are able to cope with the new circumstances of life and businesses, and the Globe and Mail reports that high-end restaurants in Toronto are struggling to survive, as gourmet ingredients are getting impossible or too expensive to find, and capacity restrictions are in effect. Chef restaurants are not the only ones which are currently struggling as food prices are rising ahead of Thanksgiving.
At the same time – other food providers in Toronto are doing exceptionally well commercially. There are so many food delivery orders that a Toronto Tech startup named Tiny Mile is experimenting robot food deliveries. The Pandemic as a whole has made significant changes in Canadian food deliveries – mainly populraised them – and the fact social distancing and other restrictions are lasting longer than anyone has expected them to, can hint that this is perhaps the “new normal” in Canada and globally.
Meal kit delivery in Toronto
Another food delivery option in Toronto that has absolutely buzzed since the beginning of lockdowns and never stopped is meal kits delivery in Toronto, as well as meal prep delivery. Meal kits are uncooked ingredient and recipe boxes containing fresh food based on the customer’s preference. Meal prep kits are essentially the same thing, but food comes in full cooked and only needs hitting (whereas meal kits take 20-25 mins to cook).
International giants like HelloFresh and its Canadian sister company Chefs Plate are dominating the local Toronto meal kit market alongside many smaller competitors such as Cook It and Fresh City Farms (there was another meal kit company in Toronto named Prepd that has shut down in this period, just to demonstrate the tough competition).
When it comes to Toronto meal preps there are more than 10 companies servicing Toronto customers. One Life Meals, Healthy Alternative, OTR Meals, Power Kitchen, Meal Fix, Honey Bee Meals and plenty more.
If we look at HelloFresh reports they have double up in revenue globally between 2019 and 2020 and their Canadian operation is the second largest region for them, netting more than 50% of what the U.S does, which signifies how significant of a market Canada is, and how fast it’s growing. There is little doubt that Toronto’s meal kit companies have also taken up some business off of Toronto’s restaurants.
What’s to come for Toronto’s food scene
The question regarding what’s to come for Toronto’s dining scene is still widely open. While many restaurants are showing optimism with the reopen of indoor dining (such as restaurants opening new locations or simply opening up their first location), other restaurant owners are absolutely tarnished by the news their venue will not be excluded from seating restrictions. The restaurants which have done during the pandemic are those who have adapted to the concept of food delivery, and it is possible there would be further lockdowns or other restrictions in the future, and hence those who have adapted so far are likely to win in the long run. With the rising popularity of meal kits we would not be surprised if some Toronto restaurants will also start a variation of a meal prep service.