How restaurants have survived the COVID-19 pandemic

By: Natalia Pinzón

Boston Pizza restaurant at Dixon Road in Toronto.


The COVID-19 pandemic took everyone by surprise. David Bhatt is the owner of Boston Pizza Dixon Road in Toronto, a restaurant that, as many others, has had to face diverse challenges, but nothing as what 2020 had prepared.

Although it can be said that the food industry has survived the current crisis, because no matter what happens, food is a necessity: Around 10,000 restaurants had to close their doors in Canada in the last year. More than 11,000 jobs have been lost, and according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, many more companies are contemplating closing for good.

Re-Opening and Customer Service

With more than a year of lockdown in Toronto, even now that re-opening is a reality, businesses are still recovering. And Boston Pizza is part of that group.

Boston Pizza Dixon Road from inside.

Boston Pizza is a multinational restaurant chain with more than 300 locations across Canada, and a number of spots in both the U.S. and Mexico. Bhatt says that he “ended in Boston Pizza by accident!” when one of his acquaintances mentioned about the opportunity to buy one of the franchises after he recommended the man to let him know whenever there was any chance of investing. 

One of the most important things in a customer service business is exactly that: Proper and exceptional customer service. And that is one of the reasons why Bhatt believes that even with difficult moments they went through last year, they have been able to stay afloat and keep doing what they most love, serving customers. The attitude and kindness of a worker, together with a number of skills, is the principal reason why a guest comes back, because no matter how stressed or tired you are, it is your responsibility to treat each your customers as the most important guest, and make them feel special and welcome. That’s how you feel when you come to Boston Pizza. It’s their staff what makes the place magical and an enjoyable experience.

Changes in 2020

Jennifer Leiva, Assistant General Manager at the Dixon Road location, says things have changed a lot in the past year, but it was for the best because that gave them a chance to “take a break and restart”, evaluate the way things were done and evolve to better methods. It has been difficult to lost a great part of their staff, and now that some restrictions have been lifted, hire new talent, but it’s part of the evolution. Besides the new hand sanitizing stations, innovation has come to the business with new positions, new ways of packaging takeout food, and new signs of “this table has been sanitized”; changes that are planned to be around for a long time.

View from the left side of the restaurant.

There are different positions on why this restaurant in particular was able to remain open meanwhile others had to close forever. Some say it was perseverance, the welcoming staff, the food, the restaurant that closed across the street, or the third-party deliveries such as Uber Eats, Skip The Dishes and others; but for Raeanne Marshall, one of the servers and also Supervisor, it has been their loyal customers who have always motivated them to go beyond and with their support during the pandemic, eventually leading them to overcome the crisis.

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