The start of any year typically means fewer customers for restaurants, and as 2021 begins, dining in is still prohibited. That has local restaurant owners getting creative in the hopes of attracting Edmontonians’ business.

“Honestly right now, it’s just survival mode,” Otto Food & Drink owner Ed Donszelmann told CTV News Edmonton. “Just get me to springtime, get me to some warm weather, and we’ll be fine.”

The Austrian eatery had a frantic 2020 as staff tried to adapt to ever-changing pandemic rules. 

“We were new at the take-away model, and to be honest we didn’t know what we were doing,” Donszelmann said. 

Business picked up in the summer as Otto expanded capacity with a garden patio space provided by the restaurant’s landlord, but recent restrictions have meant take away is all Otto can offer. 

“We’ll continue with our hot take away, people can come pick up our fresh raw sausages. We are going to create just take-away meals that you can heat at home.”

NEW WEBSITE ON THE WAY

There will soon be a new resource for foodies to help simplify supporting local restaurants. Kyle Giesbrecht says yegfood.com will soon be a one-stop shop for those looking to order delivery without going through third party services like Uber Eats, DoorDash or SkipTheDishes. 

“We’ve been in lockdown for like 10 months, no one’s built that yet? I’m like, ‘Well, I’ve got the domain, I’ve been looking for an idea, here it is,’” Giesbrecht said. 

The delivery apps typically take a 20 per cent to 30 per cent cut of any sales made through their platforms, though during the pandemic, some have lowered their rates.

Giesbrecht says the site is a work in progress, but he hopes to have a preliminary version ready in the next week or so.

“I have a landing page up right now, so if people want to subscribe, I’ll send out an email when it’s ready.”

“I think that’s a great idea,” Filistix owner Ariel del Rosario said of the website. “January, February is usually a very tough two months, tough beginning of the year for all of the restaurant industry.”

The Filipino restaurant in the government centre of downtown finished 2020 strong thanks to the revamped Downtown Dining Week promotion, as well as some creative holiday takeout offerings. 

“It’s one thing to pivot, to do what you need to do in order to survive, but it’s another thing to keep that motivation going,” del Rosario told CTV News Edmonton. 

Both restauranteurs say community support like the website, and all the customers who make the effort to buy local has been overwhelming. 

“When you hear of the number of restaurants, businesses that have gone under because of COVID…yeah, it’s terrifying,” Donszelmann said. “But I do believe that we’ll get through.”