The reopening of patios is already reaping some reward for operators as Ontario restaurant sales and bills jumped significantly in the first week of outdoor dining being back on the menu.
Ontario restaurant patios reopened from Friday, June 11 as the province brought the date on which it moved into Step 1 of its reopening plan forward by three days.
That coincided with the arrival of a weekend of mostly nice weather, and people flocked to patios in their masses.
Data from leading payments and financial technology provider Clover found that there was a 57 per cent boost in sales between June 11 and June 14 compared to the same weekend period the previous week.
Not only are sales up, but the average bill takings have jumped too. The data showed a 28 per cent week-over-week increase in the average tab. The average bill rose from $33 to $43 in what Clover calls a direct impact of being able to offer patio service instead of only takeout and delivery.
Brian Green, Country Head of Canada at Fiserv, told RestoBiz that Clover anticipates this growth in sales will continue as patios remain open and we head into the first week of summer.
It’s not all entirely rosy, though.
While Ontario restaurant patios have reopened for summer, many of the previously regular staff have not, due in no small part to the uncertainty of working in the industry.
This is largely due to the COVID-19 restrictions that temporarily shut restaurant doors forced a lot of people out of work — and some of them aren’t coming back.
“Some people, when they started calling staff back, are finding 50 to 60 per cent of their staff has left the industry… they’ve taken jobs elsewhere,” said James Rilett, vice president for the Ontario region at Restaurants Canada, per Global News. “That’s been a big hit to a lot of people because it’s really valuable employees that have made the tough decision to move on. So there’s going to be some scrambling, trying to find staff and recruiting from different sources than typically.”
Rilett added that during the pandemic, far fewer teenagers have started seeking out their first jobs. What was once a major applicant pool for restaurant owners has shrunk down significantly, according to Rilett.