Uber Eats, Restaurants Canada serve up help for struggling restaurants during COVID-19

OTTAWA — Uber Eats is teaming up with a food industry association to deliver some financial relief to restaurants continuing to face financial challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The food delivery giant has partnered with Restaurants Canada to hand out $1 million through the Eat Local Relief Fund program. The fund will provide 400 independently owned restaurants across Canada with a $2,600 cash infusion.

“As we approach the one-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, it’s never been more important to support local restaurants,” said Lola Kassim, general manager of Uber Eats Canada.  “We are excited to partner with Restaurants Canada on this important initiative.”

Applications for the grant program are open. To be eligible, restaurants are required to demonstrate financial need, have fewer than five locations and a maximum of 50 employees per establishment. Preference will be given to applicants who have showed a commitment to the local community and restaurant staff throughout the pandemic. 

At the family-run Napoli’s Café in Stittsville, Nicole Khalil says it has been a rollercoaster of changes and re-invention, and that the only consistency has been inconsistency. 

“I am excited to have everyone back here and this is what I’ve known my whole life and this has been such a hiccough, I just want things to go back to normal,” says Khalil, whose family has run the restaurant for 27 years. “We need to have customers, it’s just not sustainable for our business to just do take out.”

While their establishment has been able to survive through strong community support, many restaurants have been unable to sustain the pressures of a pandemic.

La Porto A Casa is the latest in a series of restaurants to close throughout the Ottawa area during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some other restaurants that have closed, Pressed on Gladstone, the Fish Market Restaurant, Central Bierhaus in Kanada as well as Stoneface Dolly’s and the Wellington Eatery. 

Restaurants Canada’s James Rillett says nationally, more than one in ten restaurants have closed during the pandemic. Of those still open, nearly 50 percent say they are worried they cannot continue to operate. 

“Suffice to say it’s a dire situation for restaurants right now,” says Rillett, vice president, central Canada with Restaurants Canada. “It’s something [eat local grant] that is giving back to the community, hopefully it will keep some restaurants open at a time they need it most.”

Back at Napoli’s Café, Khalil says every little bit helps and to be able to continue serving up a smile along with a great meal, makes the fund that much more valuable. 

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