Barra Fion, seen from the outside, is a Burlington tapas restaurant that has pivoted to delivery and takeout only.

Restaurant Story: Barra Fion Tapas & Barrel

1505 Guelph line #10a, Burlington, Ont.

Award-winning restaurant Barra Fion Tapas & Barrel, like many restaurants, faced some difficult choices when Ontario announced the temporary shutdown of non-essential services, including restaurant dining rooms. Focused mainly on globally-inspired small plates and Spanish tapas, the restaurant’s menu wasn’t particularly conducive to takeout and delivery.

But that wasn’t going to deter owner Michele Kindos from making the necessary changes to keep her business running, and her customers fed. “We’ve taken our menu and created daily features to include more family options,” she says, “as well as items that had more familiarity to them, such as pizza and wings, to appeal to the masses.”

The restaurant keeps its customers up-to-date with weekly specials posted both to their website and social media channels; the restaurant is also offering alcohol delivery with orders. They ramped up delivery with UberEats, DoorDash, and SkipTheDishes, along with marketing directly to customers through their loyalty program and social-media platforms.

One of the biggest challenges, Kindos says, was figuring out how to market the shift in operations to customers, as well as factoring in new costs for packaging takeout and delivery orders. “We’re continually improving our processes to keep everyone safe,” she adds, and notes that this is critical for any restaurant seeking to continue operating through COVID-19: “Keep yourself and your staff safe – that’s the first step in keeping our clients safe.” 

At Barra Fion, Kindos has set up various stations throughout the restaurant to encourage social distancing, and works hard to promote contactless service: “We do as much as we can with payments over the phone,” she says, as well as offering curbside pickup, third-party delivery, and gift-card purchases with loyalty rewards. She stresses the importance of being able to move with the times and adjust to new restrictions, along with adjusting product to meet customer wants and needs.

So far, the changes have been warmly received by customers. “They really like the adjustments we made to be able to move with the times and help them feed their families,” Kindos says. 

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