In late March, when the Ontario government allowed bars and restaurants to add alcohol to food ordering and delivery orders, it was a lifeline for Z Bar & Grille.
“We pushed each other. “We got everything in its place… and we succeeded,” said Suset Henry, owner of a Jamaican pub near Kiel Street and Eglinton W. “I did not have to fire anyone or fire anyone.”
However, in the midst of another blockade, a new partnership between LCBO, Crown Corporation and food delivery service SkipTheDishes to ensure home delivery of alcohol took the “wind out of my sails,” Henry said.
Announced Friday, the partnership, which begins with 15 LCBO locations in Toronto, is setting fire to independent restaurant owners here who say they cannot compete with LCBO prices. They say the partnership flies in the face of the image that Prime Minister Doug Ford presented during the pandemic as a champion of small business owners.
“Doug Ford should never have allowed this, it is a crippling blow to the already limping restaurants and bars,” said Enen Ag, who owns several restaurants in Toronto, including Rhum Corner and Bar Vendetta. Ag noted that bars and restaurants “do not receive wholesale prices” from the LCBO.
In a statement from the Treasury Department on Saturday, spokeswoman Emily Hogevin said: “The LCBO is governed by a board of directors and has made this decision independently of the cabinet or the government. “The government continues to encourage everyone to support small and local businesses in this difficult time.”
The LCBO, which saw sales rise during the pandemic, did not respond to a request for comment. In a statement on the LCBO website announcing the partnership, George Soleas, President and CEO of LCBO, said: “We look forward to a great success during the holiday season and look forward to expanding our service across the province to new year. ”
A SkipTheDishes spokeswoman said Melanie Faturos-Richardson, in a statement to the company that its couriers were already delivering alcohol from both restaurants and vendors in Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia.
“In these provinces, we have seen no evidence that the sale of alcohol to our restaurant partners was adversely affected when alcohol sellers started online,” said Faturos-Richardson. “Adding a bottle of wine to an order for dinner or beer with wings has historically been a different occasion than ordering directly from an alcohol seller. “The pandemic has spurred greater sales of alcohol deliveries to restaurants across the country, and they continue to grow as we enter the busy holiday season.”
But Thomas Morana, owner of Bar Volo, a bottle shop and brewery near Jones Street and Velesley Street that offers food alcohol and Italian cuisine, said the partnership puts his business at a competitive disadvantage.
“We are forced to be able to sell food and wine and stock of beer through delivery applications and pick them up and now you have an LCBO coming there and making us lower because their prices will be much lower than ours,” he said. “All we can do is offer products you can’t find at LCBO.”
A closed dining room and patio in Toronto have been closed in a bid to stem the growing number of KOVID cases.
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The Beer Store launched a 10-week pilot home delivery project with SkipTheDishes on November 30th. But in an email Saturday, Beer Store President Ted Moroz said his company had decided to pause the program “given the current public health constraints of our restaurant and bar partners” that “continue to face unprecedented challenges”. during the pandemic. “
With files by Cheyan Bhola