People look at the menu outside a restaurant in Saint-Sauveur, Que., Saturday, December 12, 2020. Restaurants Canada is calling on customers to support their local food and drink establishments this holiday season by buying gift cards, ordering takeout or delivery, and dining in where possible. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Canadians asked to ‘picture life without restaurants’ as industry hits grim milestone

TORONTO — A restaurant industry group is asking Canadians to imagine life without local restaurants after it says the country lost more than 10,000 eateries since the introduction of pandemic lockdowns.

In an effort to help them survive, Restaurants Canada is calling on customers to support their local food and drink establishments this holiday season by buying gift cards, ordering takeout or delivery, and dining in where possible.

The campaign, called “Picture life without restaurants,” includes a one-minute video reminding people about the importance of restaurants in day-to-day lives and for special occasions and is paired with the hashtag #RestaurantsAreFamily.

“This is where you had your first date, and where she said yes,” the video narration says, as a woman holds an engagement ring over dessert. “This is the kids summer treat, and your winter comfort.”

It adds: “These are the moments we don’t want to lose. Take action. Support restaurants for the times they supported you.”

Todd Barclay, president and CEO of Restaurants Canada, said the holidays are usually one of the busiest times for restaurants.

But with so many regions under lockdown, he said the coming weeks could be devastating for restaurants.

“We are asking consumers to take a stand and show their support for their local restaurants during this crucial time of the year,” Barclay said in a statement Wednesday.

“It really does take a village and together we can support the foodservice and hospitality industry – from restaurants and bars to farmers, food and beverage brands – for all those times they supported us.”

The restaurant group said no other industry in Canada has been hit as hard as restaurants during this pandemic.

At the height of the crisis, an estimated 800,000 restaurant jobs were lost or saw hours reduced to zero.

While the industry recorded a steady recovery between May and September, the industry group said restaurants started to lose ground again in October.

Statistics Canada’s latest labour force survey found the sector is still 260,000 jobs short of where it was last February.

Restaurants Canada is warning the situation could worsen. Even among the restaurants that have survived so far, half expect to permanently shut down if conditions don’t improve, the industry group said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)
Not all long-term care workers have received their vaccines including a Red Deer facility

There continues to be confusion in long-term care and supportive living facilities… Continue reading

Cattle graze winter pasture in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies near Longview, Alta. on Jan. 8, 2004. Concern over the provincial government’s decision to drop a coal policy that has protected the eastern slopes of the Rockies for decades is growing among area communities. At least six cities, towns and municipal districts in southwest Alberta have now expressed concern about the decision and the fact it was made with no consultation. The latest is Longview, where mayor Kathie Wight is drafting a letter to the government opposing the move. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
More southern Alberta communities voice concern over province’s plans to expand coal

Concern over the Alberta government’s decision to drop a coal policy that… Continue reading

Some residents say there is no longer an effective Nordegg fire department to respond to emergencies in the West Country. (Contributed photo).
Some Nordegg residents worry about lack of emergency response in the West Country

The possibility of wildfires or accidents is ‘scary’ says former fire leader

(Advocate file photo).
Six idling vehicles stolen in last 48 hours: Red Deer RCMP

Red Deer RCMP said Wednesday six idling vehicles in the city were… Continue reading

FILE - Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford has his final meeting of the season with the media at the NHL hockey team's practice facility in Cranberry, Pa., in this Wednesday, May 9, 2018, file photo. Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford, a Hall of Famer who helped lead to a pair of Stanley Cup titles, resigned abruptly on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, who oversaw Cup wins, resigns

Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, who oversaw Cup wins, resigns

Outfielder George Springer is shown in a screengrab from a virtual news conference he took part in on Wednesday, Jan.27, 2021. Springer says he's excited to be a part of a young, talented team like the Toronto Blue Jays, a club he believes has plenty of potential. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
Blue Jays introduce outfielder George Springer after signing him to six-year deal

Blue Jays introduce outfielder George Springer after signing him to six-year deal

Bucs fans set to cheer inside, outside Super Bowl stadium

Bucs fans set to cheer inside, outside Super Bowl stadium

Hamilton Tiger Cats quarterback Jeremiah Masoli tries to fend off Saskatchewan Roughrider Zack Evans during first half CFL football game action in Hamilton on Thursday, June 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power
Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli signs extension with Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli signs extension with Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Ottawa Senators defenceman Thomas Chabot (72) tries to clear Vancouver Canucks centre Jay Beagle (83) from in front of Senators goaltender Marcus Hogberg (1) during second period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, January 27, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Demko dynamite as Vancouver Canucks beat Ottawa Senators 5-1

Demko dynamite as Vancouver Canucks beat Ottawa Senators 5-1

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) knocks a rebound away from Toronto Raptors guard Norman Powell (24) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Lowry reaches 10,000-point plateau as a Raptor in 115-108 loss to Milwaukee

Lowry reaches 10,000-point plateau as a Raptor in 115-108 loss to Milwaukee

Dallas Stars right wing Alexander Radulov (47) and defenseman John Klingberg (3) celebrates a goal by Joe Pavelski against the Nashville Predators during the third period an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021 in Dallas. (AP Photo/ Richard W. Rodriguez)
‘Sloppy’ hockey is the name of the game early in NHL season

‘Sloppy’ hockey is the name of the game early in NHL season

Ottawa Senators head coach D.J. Smith instructs his team in the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver on February 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, David Zalubowski
With less practice time, NHL morning skates making a comeback in 2021

With less practice time, NHL morning skates making a comeback in 2021

Most Read