If someone had told me over a year ago that we would be in quarantine for roughly a year, I would have asked them if they spent their weekends being a doomsday prophet, like a New Yorker cartoon. You know the kind: long, unruly hair, wandering the city streets in a toga and holding up a “the end is near” placard?
Today, I sit at my desk with my long, unruly hair and write “the end is near” for a different reason. I’m not predicting the future, but forward-looking studies are optimistic that the end is in sight – for the pandemic. Statistics from consumer polls and Restaurants Canada have shown that Canadians are willing to re-enter cafés and various food industries once the quarantine lifts. Many are willing to be vaccinated, cutting the chance of spread. More consumers have faith that the food industry is taking every precaution to protect its staff and customers. The end to the fear of eating indoors with friends is in sight.
This issue is indirectly about change. Winter is slowly giving way to spring and we’re looking tentatively, but eagerly toward summer. Bakeries are signaling this seasonal shift with brighter, summery colours on their baked goods, cafés are redecorating during any down time and many are just taking some time for a complete overhaul. Some want to increase seating space or install barriers between seating arrangements. Others simply want customers and staff to feel “safe.”
While the optimism surrounding the gradual opening of industries is rising, many are still bracing themselves for another wave of COVID. Some office places are remodeling their workplaces to make social distancing possible, and chefs like Drew Munro find opportunity in the absence of communal dining areas. UpMeals caters healthy meals via vending machine for buildings that see a meal plan as both an investment in the health of their staff and a perk to provide nutritious, delicious meals.
Remodeling can also mean acquiring funding to support PPE (personal protection equipment) such as masks, shields and customer barriers for booths or registers may help offset some of the costs. A recent consumer research study conducted by Restaurants Canada indicated that clients are more likely to enter an establishment that is visibly clean, has clearly indicated social distancing measures and staff are using PPE safely. A potential client’s peace of mind may be the key to your bakery’s revenue.
Safety and esthetics don’t always go hand-in-hand. Where some companies have found revenue by creating masks that match restaurant colours or a chef’s uniform, building safety can sometimes be less easy to implement. In this issue, you’ll read about how Ceilume had met expectations for “old world charm” and safety with their ceiling fixture. Providing healthy food choices available to workers is now a perk; more so now than ever these days due to lingering pandemic concerns. Chef Munro found a way to service the food industry without the daunting prospect of opening (and being forced to close) a dining area. Read on in this issue to find out how he used technology to supply catering services to offices in B.C.
While colours and textures may be the theme for this issue, so is change. Beyond the change in temperature, or the change of rules and regulations, we have learned to adapt in ways that we wouldn’t have imagined a year ago. Yes, the end is in sight, and some may mourn the old way of thinking or of running a bakery or café. But many in the food industry are embracing a contact-free way to reach out to new venues like apartment buildings by using vending machines to sell baked goods or grocery staples.
The first step to finding a successful business means finding the gap in the industry. May you find opportunity in these uncertain times. / BJ
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