Island restaurants enjoy busy New Year's Eve. But some say it won't make up for recent dip

·2 min read
People will no longer have to wear a mask in indoor public spaces on P.E.I., though many may choose to do so based on their own health circumstances and the nature of the space they are entering.  (Travis Kingdon/CBC - image credit)
People will no longer have to wear a mask in indoor public spaces on P.E.I., though many may choose to do so based on their own health circumstances and the nature of the space they are entering. (Travis Kingdon/CBC - image credit)

P.E.I. restaurants had a surge in takeout and delivery orders on New Year's Eve. But some say it doesn't totally make up for the drop in dine-in customers that's been a result of current COVID-19 restrictions.

With restaurants operating at half capacity and other temporary pandemic measures in place, local eating establishments say more Islanders are choosing to take food home.

At Haru K-BBQ, which opened earlier this year, sales may have been 80 per cent above the norm.

Jun Yoo, whose family runs the restaurant, said the surge was mostly due to a big increase in online orders.

"[It was] just like non-stop," he said.

Yoo said the increase was a much-needed boost for the business as activity has slowed down considerably since restrictions tightened about two weeks ago.

"I was expecting … Christmas was going to be like a lot busier because usually Christmas is the busiest day of the year for the restaurants, except for summer," he said. "But I was kind of happy that we acquired a high sale yesterday."

For the Himalayan Indian Cuisine in downtown Charlottetown, the uptake was more moderate. Manager Anuj Thapa said business was up 10 to 15 per cent for the day, which is somewhat comparable to previous years.

The restaurant made sure to have some extra people available on New Year's Eve to brace for the surge in customers.

"It's a busy day, you know," he said.

But Thapa said they could've probably seen more business had it not been for the restrictions.

"Otherwise, we may have … 20 tables, 50 tables more for the whole day," he said. "Due to the pandemic, I definitely can say people are more driven to takeout instead of dining."

'You only need so many staff for takeout'

Amy Beaton, assistant manager at Razzy's Road House, said the restaurant also saw an increase in takeout and delivery orders. But that didn't prevent business from slowing down compared to past years.

Beaton said the restaurant has definitely felt the impact from the restrictions. It has had to cut shifts and reduce staffing by nearly half.

She said the surge in takeout and orders doesn't fully offset the damage that's already been done.

"It helps the revenue of the business," Beaton said. "But it doesn't help … with staff and stuff like that.

"You only need so many staff for takeout. You don't need waitresses if there's nobody in the dining room."

She said she hopes business improves in the new year and that the restaurant will be working to offer more deals to bring customers back.

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