Soaring costs and shifting tastes put restaurants on the edge of bankruptcy

Restaurant bankruptcies soar

Cindy White

A new report by Restaurants Canada is sounding the alarm, indicating a 116 per cent increase in bankruptcy filings within the foodservice industry since 2022, as operational costs continue to rise.

This development is compelling many restaurants to contemplate closure or explore alternative business approaches. Simultaneously, diners are facing their own challenges with escalating costs. Post-pandemic, they crave more than just a meal, driving the surge in experiential dining trends.

That’s good news for businesses that offer customers something beyond the ordinary.

“They like that unique experience, a personable experience,” says Andrew Deans, owner of A Taste of Kelowna Food Tours. “If people are going to spend their money now; and it is tighter because of everything going on in the world, they want that.”

He says one value-added item he’s worked into his tours is a trip to the rooftop patio at the Innovation Centre, with its panoramic view of the city.

Tapping into the rising interest in experiential dining is Lakehouse Home Store, which recently opened an impressive cooking school space on its second floor.

“We wanted a place where people can come in, feel and use the product, get a hands-on experience learning how to cook. And it’s different than going out to a restaurant,” said chef and operations director Travis Pye.

Their cooking classes attract a diverse clientele, ranging from older couples on date nights to young people learning how to cook.

While attending her second cooking class, Brenda remarks, "This is nice because we actually use the recipes and techniques. It's interesting. You're learning something, spending a little more time preparing the food instead of just going somewhere and sitting down and having it placed in front of you."

The demand for locally-sourced food is also at the forefront of both restaurant owners' and diners' minds.

“For example, at BNA they’ve got this new burger. They made a partnership with this beef producer in B.C. to buy X amount of beef per month from them. That producer is able to get it to them at an amazing price, and their new burger is probably the best because it’s a local burger and bun here from B.C. It’s $10 cheaper than anywhere else,” notes Deans.

He adds there are restaurants coming up with unique ideas to ensure cash-strapped families can enjoy a meal out for less than $100.

However, for those still struggling, Restaurants Canada is urging the federal government to give them more time for the repayment of government loans received during the pandemic.

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