LCBO suspends partnership with SkipTheDishes after province intervenes

The LCBO says it is putting its partnership with food delivery app SkipTheDishes on hold as of Sunday after it was instructed to so by the Ontario government.

Under partnership, food delivery app would have delivered alcohol to customers

The LCBO says it has paused its partnership with food delivery app SkipTheDishes effective at the end of Sunday after the Ontario government asked it to do so. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

The LCBO says it is putting its partnership with food delivery app SkipTheDishes on hold at the end of Sunday after it was instructed to so by the Ontario government.

Through the partnership, customers could have ordered alcohol from the SkipTheDishes app and website. The partnership caused consternation in the restaurant and bar industry, which has been relying in part on the sale of alcohol through takeout and delivery to pay its bills.

"Following direction from the Ontario Government, effective end of day today, LCBO's partnership with SkipTheDishes is paused until further notice," the LCBO said in a statement on Sunday.

"We are proud to continue offering a safe in-store shopping experience and our expanded Same-Day Pickup option and will continue to look for new ways to increase choice and convenience for our customers."

In a tweet on Sunday, Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips said he and Premier Doug Ford asked the LCBO to pause the partnership as a show of support for restaurants.

"Restaurants have been hit hard by COVID, so we are supporting them, including by allowing them to sell alcohol w/ take-out & delivery," Phillips said.

"Restaurants still need our support, so Premier @fordnation & I asked LCBO to pause their recently announced delivery plans with Skip the Dishes."

Toronto Mayor John Tory, in a tweet on Sunday, said he agreed with the suspension of the partnership.

"Premier @FordNation and Finance Minister @RodPhillips01 got this one right. Modernized liquor laws are the way to go but not right now with restaurants locked down. Good call," Tory said.

On Friday, SkipTheDishes announced the partnership, saying it had planned to begin "on-demand delivery" to LCBO customers starting with 15 stores in Toronto.

Through the SkipTheDishes app and website, customers could have ordered wine, beer and spirits as well as gift bags, boxes and ice from their local LCBO stores.

SkipTheDishes said in a statement on Sunday that it will continue its business as before.

"SkipTheDishes respects the decision of the Ontario Government and remains focused on supporting our restaurant partners, working with them to provide a safe way to sell alcohol via takeout and delivery while allowing our customers to practice social distancing," a spokesperson said in the statement.

In a tweet on Friday, Bar Volo, a Toronto bar, bottle shop and brewery, criticized the partnership, saying: "This is the governments way of supporting small business? Undercutting restaurants trying to survive just off food delivery apps during a lockdown."

On Sunday, it said: "Thank you everyone! One small step forward to protect our industry."

In March, the Ontario government introduced an emergency order that allowed licensed bars and restaurants to sell alcohol as part of food delivery orders.