Updated March 31, 2020
With dining in at restaurants not being an option now, it's wonderful to see that people across the country are actively seeking take-out and delivery from independent Canadian restaurants. (Personally, my partner and I have been trying to order from a local restaurant at least two to three times a week.) Of course, take-out and delivery are not substitutes for regular dine-in service or overall dining experience, but it's reassuring to hear from many restaurateurs that the interest is having a positive impact during these difficult times.
Still, it can be hard to keep track of which restaurants are still open for pick-up and curbside delivery options and what exactly they are offering. Lucky for us, there are a small few who have taken it upon themselves to aggregate lists or spreadsheets of restaurants, bars, breweries and their offerings in their respective regions.
Here are the resources in each major city and a little insight from some of the individuals behind these lists who are working tirelessly to advocate for their local eateries. Supporting these struggling small business is making a difference, so please do if you can.
Vancouver and area
The first restaurant support campaign to launch at the beginning of the pandemic is Breaking Bread Now and has become quite the movement in only three weeks. Based in Vancouver, the restaurant initiative was launched with 23 restaurants on March 13 by Shelley McArthur of SMC Communications. Now, Breaking Bread Now lists close to 300 restaurants on their website, and offerings from Canadian distilleries and breweries are starting to be added.
“In unity there’s strength, and at now more than ever, we need to rally around each other to support the hospitality community as well as all of those people in the supply chain who depend on them for their livelihoods in whatever ways we can,” says McArthur Everett. “With Breaking Bread, we’ve created a hub for guests to learn all of the ways they can support their local restaurants and ensure that they not only weather this storm but come out the other side stronger for it."
Breaking Bread Now is your best reference point for take-out and delivery options in the Vancouver area, but also highlights some restaurants in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.
Restaurants, bars, breweries and distilleries interested in being added to their directory can submit their information easily on the Breaking Bread Now website.
You can also keep tabs on what's open in Whistler via this constantly updated PDF created by Tourism Whistler.
Carmen Cheng is an established Instagrammer and food writer based out of Calgary. When she began seeing restaurants scale back due to the current crisis, she began searching out whatever details she could about eateries remaining open and what they were offering.
"I could see business owners trying to pivot quickly to adapt to rapidly changing conditions, often struggling with how to communicate their offerings to customers," says Cheng. "I put out the list hoping to bridge the gap and encourage friends to continue to support local businesses which they wanted to, but didn't know which restaurants were offering take-out. My hope is that this list helps to drive more business directly to restaurants through their take-out programs or their own in-house delivery options where available."
SAIT hospitality instructor, Madeleine MacDonald, worked with Cheng's initial list to create a comprehensive spreadsheet of restaurant offerings (and their contact information) in the Calgary area. MacDonald has also included a tab for breweries, distilleries and boutique liquor stores on the document.
As well, Avenue magazine has a robust listing of breweries and distilleries currently offering delivery in Calgary.
Edmonton and area
A new restaurant listings site based in Edmonton, Food Search Inc. has created a list for the Alberta capital city and area (like Sherwood Park and Fort Saskatchewan). The list does include chain restaurants and their various locations, but there are more than 100 independent restaurants listed on their website.
Regina-based food writer and author, CJ Katz, has been spearheading a movement in Saskatchewan to help broadcast up-to-date offerings from food and drink businesses across the province.
"It became evident the moment things escalated with COVID-19 crisis and when restaurants began to post about how they were being forced to close or lay people off that something, somehow, needed to be done to help them," says Katz. "It occurred to me that if we had one place where people could come to find out what places were open, if they were offering take-out and delivery, and how they might order, it might really help."
Katz launched the Food Take-Out and Delivery in Saskatchewan During COVID-19 Facebook page, which has quickly grown to 5,400 members. Not surprisingly, the amount of information about take-out and delivery options being posted to the group became overwhelming, so the writer worked with a group of helpers to create a province-wide spreadsheet of food and drink offerings.
"I reached out to the group and asked for help and a dozen volunteers manifested in 24 hours. It resulted in a collection of spreadsheets listing hundreds of businesses in all areas of the province that are staying open and grinding it out. We keep this post pinned to the top of the [Facebook group page] so anyone can access it. It would have been utterly impossible for me to run this page without volunteers, they are the backbone of this page and they keep everything updated."
Peg City Grub, the food blog extension of Tourism Winnipeg's website has always been a popular resource for all things food and drink in Canada's most central city, but it's the up-to-date database of food and drink options amid the COVID-19 crisis that's most accessed right now.
Food writer and Tourism Winnipeg's social media and communications manager, Mike Green first spent hours compiling information for two blog entries detailing offerings around the city. To offer up something more robust, the tourism board's Visitor Services team created the current database which can now be filtered alphabetically or narrowed by city area or cuisine categories.
"We just wanted to do what we could, which right now, is to get the word out on all the restaurants and talented kitchens that are working hard to adapt and bring good food to people. Our culinary scene is obviously very vital to our tourism scene, and we still have an opportunity to tell stories and support the people and businesses who are giving their time (and food) to help others in this situation," says Green.
Toronto and GTA
Food writer and author, Suresh Doss has taken the initiative to curate a comprehensive list of restaurants in Toronto, the GTA and beyond, offering take-out and delivery. The ever-updating Google Map is continually growing, but has more than 600 listings, which include anything from bakeries and restaurants to wineries and cideries outside of Toronto.
"This industry is under serious threat right now, many places won't survive weeks. Sadly, we're going to see many of the great restaurants that made Toronto a global eating city disappear," says Doss. "I created this map to highlight the places that can't afford to stay closed, ones that are staying open and trying to make ends meet."
Doss is encouraging people to alert him of food and drink businesses to add by commenting on his Twitter thread below.
Here's what I have so far>> https://t.co/4M5GOIHrKX
Need to clean it up and add more. I get it, this map is going to get obsolete fast but at least its a geo resource. Comment below with confirmed places and I'll add to it. — Suresh Doss (@Suresh) March 17, 2020
Chef and high school culinary arts teacher, Kent Van Dyk has created a spreadsheet via Airtable that currently includes 70 restaurants and 12 specialty shops in the Ottawa area. His lists include everything from business hours and social handles to the delivery methods each business may have available.
Restaurants like Agrikol, ramen fave Yokato Yokabai, and Cambodian resto Les Street Monkeys are still serving on a take-out and delivery basis https://t.co/fRmVLhLp5T — Eater Montreal (@EaterMontreal) March 29, 2020
Much like its many city-specific outlets in the United States and abroad, Eater has done a good job with its Montreal edition of providing a list of cafes, restaurants and bars offering take-out or delivery during the COVID-19 crisis. The list is curated by editor Tim Forster and updated as information is received. People with restaurant information or corrections are advised to send Eater Montreal an email.
Time Out Montreal has also assembled a similar, and more click-friendly, list, but it does not appear to be as comprehensive and not updated as regularly.
Arthur Gaudreau operates the popular blog Halifax ReTales and has assembled a crowd-sourced list on his website, Eats During the Pandemic. The list is search friendly, but not fully vetted, so Halifax ReTales stresses the importance of checking local restaurants' social feeds or contacting them directly for their most current offerings.
"For me it was a simple decision; it just seemed like the right thing to do and I already had the right audience," says Gaudreau. "Instead of driving around town or calling everywhere I crowdsourced the information...and let people know where they could still get prepared food. [I also] created a list of [places] where folks could buy gift cards online as a gesture of making a micro-loan to business for tomorrow."
People can submit restaurant information (or updates to a restaurant's current offerings) to Gaudreau through its online form.