New website aims to help Vancouver Island restaurants survive latest shutdown

With indoor dining prohibited in British Columbia until at least April 19, restaurants on Vancouver Island are looking for any help they can get to stay afloat.

A recently launched website, victoriapatios.ca, is one source of assistance for a growing number of local businesses.

Though it has Victoria in its name, the site functions as an Island-wide directory of restaurants that are currently open for patio dining, takeout or delivery. Users can sort listings by city or by dining option.

Bill Speta, president of Blackfish Networks, told CTV News Vancouver Island he began developing the site at the suggestion of a friend in the local hospitality industry.

"We put a small team together of volunteers and we managed to make it happen in about 48 hours," Speta said.

He said his company relies pretty heavily on the hospitality industry for its business, so it made sense to do what he could to help the industry stay afloat during the latest shutdown.

"I feel like the website has value past the April 19 deadline, but really, we built it just to kind of help the industry get through this period," Speta said. "More than anything, I hope it brings some new restaurants to people's lives. There's a lot of places that came up that I wasn't even aware of, a lot of places that I'm excited to go visit. It's about exposure."

The site has been growing rapidly since it launched, and it continues to take submissions from restaurants looking to be added.

"It's been overwhelming," Speta said of the response he's received. "I woke up to another 82 submissions this morning."