Nova Scotia

Cape Breton restaurants try out new business models to stay afloat during COVID-19

Several Cape Breton restaurants are getting creative to get through the COVID-19 pandemic.

From grocery boxes to meals for people in need, some restaurants pivoting to non-traditional business models

Public health restrictions are creating big challenges for restaurants. (Shutterstock)

Several Cape Breton restaurants are getting creative to get through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scott Morrison, owner of the three Flavor restaurants in Sydney, said earlier in the pandemic, his establishments were offering takeout and delivery. As the number of COVID-19 cases increased in the province, he decided to shut down for the safety of his staff and his family.

But Morrison is still going to work himself. He's offering a service where people can buy meals for those in need, such as seniors who can't leave their homes or low-income earners.

"If the person has somewhere in particular they'd like to send them, we do that," he said. "If not, we've been in touch with various organizations such as Transition House, the Ally Centre and we've provided meals on a pick-up basis."

Morrison said he only advertised the model for two days. They had so many orders that he was able to make meals for an entire month.

With three restaurants, Morrison has made good use of what's in their freezers.

"We've done pasta, we've done soup, salad … it's definitely good for us in this sense too," he said.

Morrison said the model is helping the community and his business.

At Kiju's Restaurant on the Membertou First Nation, they've shifted from offering takeout when the pandemic began to selling groceries. Executive chef Shaun Zwarun said it's been a success.

"People are spending a lot of time at home right now. There's a lot of cooking going on and people are … reluctant to spend a lot of time in grocery stores, so it's a great way to get food delivered right to their house," he said.

Kathleen MacDonald, co-owner of Freshii in Sydney, N.S., poses with freshly-made meals for the Whitney Pier Boys and Girls Club. (Craig Boudreau)

Kiju's is offering a staples box that includes fresh produce and some dairy, as well as a protein box that includes various cuts of meat. The restaurant has been able to keep using their main food supplier to fill the boxes.

Freshii, a franchise restaurant in Sydney, gave grocery boxes a shot as a part of a company-wide initiative. However, co-owner Craig Boudreau said only one person bought them.

Freshii has been able to stay open in part because of the generosity of locals.

"So many people have done things such as donate Freshii meals to places such as the homeless shelter, the Boys and Girls Club, Transition House," said Boudreau.

Food for health-care workers

Patrons have also been buying meals for health-care workers. Boudreau estimates 75 meals have been sent to health-care workers, which Freshii delivers free of charge.

As a result of people buying so many meals for others, Boudreau and co-owner Kathleen MacDonald have been able to donate hundreds of dollars to local charities and hire back more staff.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brittany Wentzell

Current Affairs Reporter/Editor

Brittany Wentzell is based in Sydney, N.S., as a reporter for Information Morning Cape Breton. She has covered a wide range of issues including education, forestry and municipal government. Story ideas? Send them to brittany.wentzell@cbc.ca

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