With pandemic driven lockdowns and restrictions sweeping across Canada, many businesses have been forced to pivot. For some, this has meant emphasizing and selling other products to make up for lost revenue. For others, it has meant completely changing how they operate and developing new ways of supporting their families.
The latter could not be more true for Canada’s struggling restaurant and hospitality sector. At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, many were forced to shut their doors for dine-in customers, lay off dozens of staff, and make the switch to takeout and delivery orders. For those with the infrastructure, the transition was fairly straightforward. However, for most restaurants, they had to completely retool their operations. This lead to many setting up online ordering systems, updating their menu to suit takeout/delivery, ordering takeout containers for all products, and reconfiguring their restaurants to accommodate customers waiting for pick up or delivery orders. With the majority of restaurants operating on thin margins already, the capital required to make the transition was significant to say the least.
This same group has also been faced with mixed messaging from officials, rotating lockdowns, and a lack of governmental support. To say that the restaurant and hospitality industry has been through it all in the past year would be a huge understatement.
As a hospitality-focused company, Workhaus understands the massive amount of frustration and anxiety that restaurant owners, staff, and suppliers must be going through. Trust us – we’re there with you as well. However, we also understand the importance of following policies and regulations to keep everyone safe and healthy
As part of our ongoing efforts to support and highlight small businesses, we asked our team members to tell us about their favourite local takeout spot(s) including:
- Why it’s special to them
- Why the food is great
- The restaurant’s COVID-19 response
Wah Too Seafood Restaurant
58 Centre Ave, Toronto, ON M5G 1R5
Closest Workhaus: Dundas
Submitted by: Courtney, Community Manager
Nestled between Dundas Street and Centre Avenue, Wah Too Seafood Restaurant is quite literally a few dozen steps from our location at 180 Dundas St. W. It is home to some of the best Asian cuisine you’ll get in the downtown area. Now, don’t let the exterior fool you; Wah Too is a very popular spot for their diverse lunch and dinner menus. They’re known for their spicy shrimp, chilli chicken and chilli squid. With enormous portions, reasonable prices, and great customer service, they’re easily a fan favourite of the entire Workhaus team. During this pandemic they’ve been offering contactless pickup and payments to ensure your seafood cravings are satisfied while staying safe.
5165 Yonge St, North York, ON M2N 5P5
Closest Workhaus: North York
Submitted by: Jessica, Community Manager
Kinton Ramen was established in May 2012, and was one of the first Japanese ramen places in Toronto. Located close to our North York location, they’re famous for their pork ramen, incredible customer service and lively atmosphere (pre-covid). During the pandemic they’re offering online ordering, contactless pickup, and delivery. They’ve also launched their #expectmorecare campaign in response to the pandemic. With this campaign, customers can expect a surprise with their order! Whether that means a free 4-piece serving of veggie gyoza or a cute hand-written note, they’re making an effort to go the extra mile for every one. Beyond that, they’ve also hired a Hygiene Ambassador, implemented numerous COVID safety precautions and have also partnered with United TO-gether to deliver free lunches to hundreds of front line workers across Toronto who are fighting the COVID pandemic. Kinton is caring, community-minded and some of the best spicy pork ramen in town!
106 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M5C 1S6
Closest Workhaus: St. James
Submitted by: Venezia, Community Manager
If you’re looking for a COVID-friendly restaurant in the downtown core, Cubby Smart Kitchen is your best bet. A five-minute walk from our St. James location, Cubby’s Kitchen is surpassing COVID-19 regulations by providing 100% contactless service. When walking into Cubby’s customers are met with self-service kiosks with menus ranging from four different cuisines, orders are prepared behind the scenes, then delivered via a small cubby in the wall. Plus, Workhaus members get 25% OFF of every Cubby order (ask your Community Manager for details!).
What A Bagel
130 Spadina Ave., Toronto, ON M5V 1X9
40 Sheppard Ave E, North York, ON M2N 2E7
Just down the street from our Spadina location, What A Bagel has been serving the Toronto community since 1997 and boasts that they serve some of the best bagels in the city. While their bagels are truly delicious, this spot serves up so much more. Representing the diverse community it serves, their menu ranges from classic breakfast options such as pancakes & pastries, lunch options such as burgers & sandwiches, hearty vegan options, & more! If you’d like a completely contactless interaction, you can place an order online or over the phone. Your food will be sealed, labeled, and waiting for you at their front door. Next time you need your bagel fix, don’t forget about this Toronto staple.
272 King Street N, Waterloo, ON, N2J 2Y9
Closest Workhaus: Market
Submitted by: Adam, Director of Kitchener-Waterloo
Morty’s Pub has been a staple in the Kitchener-Waterloo area since 1981. Located near Wilfrid Laurier University – and just a quick ION ride away from our Market location – they’ve been serving some of the best takeout during the ongoing pandemic. They’re famous for their huge chicken wings and wide variety of tasty apps, all of which go perfect with a cold brew. During the pandemic, they’re offering contactless pickup and payments – they’ll even put your order in your backseat or trunk if you’re driving. Morty’s is always a safe choice in terms of safety and flavour!
Scotland Yard Pub
56 The Esplanade, Toronto, ON M5E 1A6
Closest Workhaus: St James
Submitted by: Tori, Director of Community
If you’re looking for unpretentious and friendly service, Scotland Yard Pub is for you.
Affectionately named “the Yard” by locals, this iconic establishment has existed for over 40 years. The low staff turnover rate leads to legendary staff (and regulars) who treat repeat customers like family. As an English pub, they have all the classics but don’t let that fool you. They are constantly innovating their menu and creating pub originals like the “nachomari.” It’s no surprise that Blog TO rated their nachos within the top ten in Toronto. Plus, let’s not forget their best kept secret – their veggie gravy poutine. Honestly, it’s the best veggie poutine in the city and even the most dedicated of carnivores love it.
The Scotland Yard Pub is dedicated to the health and safety of all their guests. They have implemented many safety procedures and policies including disinfecting every item and surface, enforcing face coverings, and physical distancing.
Buster’s Sea Cove
93 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E 1C3
Closest Workhaus: St James & Commerce Court
Submitted by: Tori, Director of Community
Buster’s Sea Cove was founded in 1992 at St. Lawrence Market and now has grown to having a second location in Commerce Court as well as a food truck. Their popularity is likely due to their boat-to-table menu and generous portion sizes. This is the perfect place to serve all your seafood cravings. If you’re in need of comfort food, the lobster roll or fish fry a must-try. If you prefer a healthier meal, their grilled sashimi grade swordfish salad or their seared Ahi tuna tacos are perfect. For safe and no contact pickup you can order ahead via Ritual. Plus, like all restaurants, Buster’s Sea Cove is dedicated to all of their customers’ health and safety.
61 Kensington Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2K1
Closest Workhaus: Spadina
Submitted by: Russ, Community Manager
Although it’s known for its fusion of Italian and Jamaican cuisine, I enjoy the simple serving of its authentic island offerings (validated by my Caribbean friend/colleague Courtney). The jerk chicken is probably the best menu item. The chicken is bbq’d right outside with the wafting aromas making it irresistible. I have also tried their ox-tail and it’s a winner as well. If you’re ever in the neighborhood and want to have some incredible Caribbean food, check out Rasta Pasta and you will not be disappointed.
Wise & Wright
317 7 Ave SW #163, Calgary, AB T2P 2Y9
Closest Workhaus: Calgary Core
Submitted by: Ethan, Community Manager
Directly situated in the CORE is Wise & Wright, a local gem that definitely lives up to its name. With no hormones, antibiotics, farmed seafood or animal by-products they provide some of the healthiest, tastiest food around. The staff is awesome & their COVID protocols will ensure you’re as safe as you are satisfied.
Banh Mi Boys
392 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2A9
Closest Workhaus: Spadina
Submitted by: Carla, Director of Human Resources
Offers quality Viet fusion dishes including baos, tacos, banh mi. Social Distancing while ordering is in place, including capacity limitations
123 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5H 3M9
Kibo is home to some of the best quality sushi in the city! What is more impressive than their rapid expansion with over 20+ locations in Toronto and Calgary is their consistent quality. To promote social distancing, Kibo is only accepting takeout and delivery orders at this time.
Do you have a favourite local spot for takeout? Let us know what it is and why!