by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Restaurants in Canada: Daypart Performance

Restaurants in Canada: Daypart Performance

by David Klemt

White clock on red background

For both in-person dining and off-premise consumption, more Canadian consumers are ordering from restaurants across all dayparts.

As Restaurants Canada points out in their latest report, traffic and sales remain lower than pre-pandemic levels. However, there are reasons to be positive.

For one example, Restaurants Canada predicts 2022 sales to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year. The foodservice research and advocacy organization’s 2022 Foodservice Facts report provides another positive outlook.

Just looking at Q1 of this year versus Q3, all dayparts are seeing increases in traffic.

To read more about the report and grab your own copy, follow this link.

Numbers Tell the Tale

Per Restaurants Canada, the breakfast daypart slid significantly in 2020. During that time, it fell 20 percent that year.

For the first half of this year, however, Restaurants Canada reports that breakfast traffic is just four percent lower in comparison to 2019.

On a positive note, the breakfast daypart has risen steadily from March of this year to July, or Q1 versus Q3. In fact, all dayparts have grown.

According to Restaurants Canada, 43 percent of Canadians ordered breakfast from restaurants in March 2022. That number grew to 50 percent by July of this year.

In terms of snack purchases, 55 percent of Canadian consumers made purchases from restaurants. By July, that percentage rose to 62 percent.

Continuing along, 64 percent of Canadians placed lunch orders in March. Four months later, that number had increased to 73 percent.

Per the 2022 Foodservice Facts report, a significant percentage of Canadians are placing lunch and snack orders. In fact, Restaurants Canada says that Canadians are making purchases from restaurants during those dayparts two to three times per month.

Of course, there’s one more daypart we need to discuss…

Dinner is King

By the numbers, the dinner daypart is outperforming all others in Canada.

In March of 2022, 85 percent of Canadians had placed dinner orders at restaurants. That number rose to 87 percent in April but dipped to 86 percent in May.

However, dinner saw growth again in June and July, rising to 88 and then 89 percent, respectively.

As the numbers show, dinner orders are outpacing lunch orders 14 percent. Snacks are being outpaced by dinner by nearly 30 percent. Of all dayparts, breakfast is the weakest.

In fact, dinner outperforms breakfast by nearly 40 points. This makes sense when we consider the work-from-home effect.

More people working from home means, in theory, many less people commuting to work. Restaurants that once saw great breakfast daypart traffic are seeing a significant dropoff. Less people commuting means less people popping into a restaurant for breakfast.

It appears that instead, people are clocking in, working until break time, and then going to get a snack. And when lunch rolls around, why not place an order for lunch?

Naturally, after working all day, people are tired or eager to meet up with friends and family to socialize and decompress. So, dinner ruling the daypart roost makes complete sense.

In other words, operators looking to streamline should consider this Restaurants Canada data. The dayparts that require the most labor currently are lunch and dinner, so operators should plan accordingly if that’s viable for their business.

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Breakdown: How Senators Voted on RRF

Breakdown: How Senators Voted on RRF

by David Klemt

U.S. Capitol Building exterior, cloudy blue skies

After a year of waiting, we now know the fate of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund: a 52 to 43 vote that saw RRF replenishment fail on the Senate floor.

Last Thursday, the US Senate voted to debate the Small Business COVID Relief Act of 2022 (S.4008). A filibuster put an end to this effort to replenish the RRF.

To be blunt, this is a disgrace. Eligible RRF applicants have been awaiting needed and deserved grants for a year. We were left out of Build Back Better, we were left out of the $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill passed in March.

A contributing factor to why this is so disappointing is the passing of S.3811. Of particular note, 32 of the senators who voted against $40 billion for American restaurants and bars voted in favor of $40 billion for supplemental aid for Ukraine.

Now, I’m not saying that Ukraine doesn’t deserve our support. Likewise, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have voted to provide the war-torn country $40 billion in aid.

However, I am saying that I find it indefensible that dozens of our senators would send that kind of money overseas, then turn around and deny relief for American businesses.

In one moment we have senators saying America needs to come first. They then proceed to turn their backs on hard-working Americans.

Nay Votes

Unfortunately, 43 senators—all Republican—voted against the Small Business COVID Relief Act of 2022. Therefore, they voted against replenishing the RRF.

However, that doesn’t mean all Republican senators voted against the bill. Indeed, four Republicans voted with their Democrat and Independent peers.

  • Barrasso (R-WY)
  • Blackburn (R-TN)
  • Boozman (R-AR)
  • Braun (R-IN)
  • Burr (R-NC)
  • Capito (R-WV)
  • Cornyn (R-TX)
  • Cotton (R-AR)
  • Cramer (R-ND)
  • Crapo (R-ID)
  • Cruz (R-TX)
  • Daines (R-MT)
  • Fischer (R-NE)
  • Graham (R-SC)
  • Grassley (R-IA)
  • Hagerty (R-TN)
  • Hawley (R-MO)
  • Hoeven (R-ND)
  • Hyde-Smith (R-MS)
  • Inhofe (R-OK)
  • Johnson (R-WI)
  • Kennedy (R-LA)
  • Lankford (R-OK)
  • Lee (R-UT)
  • Lummis (R-WY)
  • McConnell (R-KY)
  • Moran (R-KS)
  • Paul (R-KY)
  • Portman (R-OH)
  • Risch (R-ID)
  • Romney (R-UT)
  • Rounds (R-SD)
  • Rubio (R-FL)
  • Sasse (R-NE)
  • Scott (R-FL)
  • Scott (R-SC)
  • Shelby (R-AL)
  • Sullivan (R-AK)
  • Thune (R-SD)
  • Tillis (R-NC)
  • Toomey (R-PA)
  • Tuberville (R-AL)
  • Young (R-IN)

Yea Votes

It’s important to remember that the Small Business COVID Relief Act of 2022 was a bipartisan effort. Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced the bill, which included $40 billion for the RRF and $8 billion for other businesses.

Four Republican senators and two Independents voted in the affirmative with all Democrats.

  • Baldwin (D-WI)
  • Bennet (D-CO)
  • Blumenthal (D-CT)
  • Blunt (R-MO)
  • Booker (D-NJ)
  • Cantwell (D-WA)
  • Cardin (D-MD)
  • Carper (D-DE)
  • Casey (D-PA)
  • Cassidy (R-LA)
  • Collins (R-ME)
  • Coons (D-DE)
  • Cortez Masto (D-NV)
  • Duckworth (D-IL)
  • Durbin (D-IL)
  • Feinstein (D-CA)
  • Gillibrand (D-NY)
  • Hassan (D-NH)
  • Heinrich (D-NM)
  • Hickenlooper (D-CO)
  • Hirono (D-HI)
  • Kaine (D-VA)
  • Kelly (D-AZ)
  • King (I-ME)
  • Klobuchar (D-MN)
  • Leahy (D-VT)
  • Lujan (D-NM)
  • Manchin (D-WV)
  • Markey (D-MA)
  • Menendez (D-NJ)
  • Merkley (D-OR)
  • Murkowski (R-AK)
  • Murphy (D-CT)
  • Murray (D-WA)
  • Ossoff (D-GA)
  • Padilla (D-CA)
  • Peters (D-MI)
  • Reed (D-RI)
  • Sanders (I-VT)
  • Schatz (D-HI)
  • Schumer (D-NY)
  • Shaheen (D-NH)
  • Sinema (D-AZ)
  • Smith (D-MN)
  • Stabenow (D-MI)
  • Tester (D-MT)
  • Warner (D-VA)
  • Warnock (D-GA)
  • Warren (D-MA)
  • Whitehouse (D-RI)
  • Wicker (R-MS)
  • Wyden (D-OR)

Not Voting

Three Democrat and two Republican senators didn’t vote on S.4008.

  • Brown (D-OH)
  • Ernst (R-IA)
  • Marshall (R-KS)
  • Rosen (D-NV)
  • Van Hollen (D-MD)

Yay Votes for Ukraine, Nay Votes for RRF

The following senators, all Republican, voted to send $40 billion in aid to Ukraine.

The same day, they voted against $40 billion to replenish the RRF, voting against American restaurants and bars.

  • Barrasso (R-WY)
  • Burr (R-NC)
  • Capito (R-WV)
  • Cornyn (R-TX)
  • Cotton (R-AR)
  • Cramer (R-ND)
  • Cruz (R-TX)
  • Daines (R-MT)
  • Fischer (R-NE)
  • Graham (R-SC)
  • Grassley (R-IA)
  • Hoeven (R-ND)
  • Hyde-Smith (R-MS)
  • Inhofe (R-OK)
  • Johnson (R-WI)
  • Kennedy (R-LA)
  • Lankford (R-OK)
  • McConnell (R-KY)
  • Moran (R-KS)
  • Portman (R-OH)
  • Risch (R-ID)
  • Romney (R-UT)
  • Rounds (R-SD)
  • Rubio (R-FL)
  • Sasse (R-NE)
  • Scott (R-FL)
  • Scott (R-SC)
  • Shelby (R-AL)
  • Sullivan (R-AK)
  • Thune (R-SD)
  • Tillis (R-NC)
  • Toomey (R-PA)
  • Young (R-IN)

Image: PartTime Portraits on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

US Senate Fails to Replenish the RRF

US Senate Fails to Replenish the RRF

by David Klemt

United States Capitol Building exterior and blue sky

After conflicting reports and speculation, the US Senate has finally voted this week on replenishing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

Last week, multiple sources reported that the Senate would hold their RRF vote this week. Just days ago, several outlets sounded the alarm, reporting that the vote would be pushed to next week. The reason, these sources provided, was the Senate’s scramble to repackage and hold another vote on aid for Ukraine.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) blocked the bill that would provide $40 billion in defense and humanitarian aid. Unsurprisingly, it was also Sen. Paul who objected to $43 billion in emergency funding last August, killing that RRF replenishment effort.

Today, on the Senate floor, Sen. Paul repeatedly derided the replenishment of the RRF as a “bailout.” Additionally, he asked, “Where’s the emergency?”

So, one can infer that the impending closure of an estimated 50 percent of RRF applicants—88,500—isn’t an emergency to the Kentucky senator. Simple math shows that if each of those applicants has just ten employees, that’s a loss of 885,000 jobs.

Rightfully so, people throughout the industry have been more than a little concerned that the bill would receive at least 60 “yea” votes today.

At issue is where the funds would come from. While Democrats view replenishing the RRF as emergency funding, Republicans prefer to reallocate existing funds.

Senate Fails to Replenish RRF

Today’s vote was a long time coming. In fact, it’s just days shy of one year since the RRF application portal closed.

Now, after a 223 to 203 vote in the House to replenish RRF, our senators have failed us. The resulting vote was 52 to 43, falling short of the 60 “yeas” necessary

I’m not despondent over this news. Honestly, I think I’ve made it rather clear that our politicians failing us wouldn’t at all surprise me. Yet I still find myself incredibly disappointed.

Disappointed in how the RRF was handled, disappointed in the grant approval process, disappointed in how emergency funding was blocked, and disappointed in how we were left out of the Biden administration’s Build Back Better and March omnibus bills.

And gravely disillusioned now that I’ve finally learned how little many of our senators care about us. Hospitality is an industry that employed nearly 17 million people in 2019. In terms of revenue, we’re projected by the National Restaurant Association to generate almost $900 billion in sales.

Not enough, it’s clear, for a majority of senators to vote to replenish the RRF.

However, I’m mostly dismayed for the owners and operators who have waited a year just to have this lifeline yanked from their fingertips. Today’s failure in the Senate puts millions of jobs at risk.

Underfunded from the Start

For those who found themselves in RRF limbo, the wait for this vote has been agonizing.

The RRF application portal opened May 3, 2021. Initially, the process looked promising. For the first 21 days, the Small Business Administration announced, priority would be granted to small businesses with a minimum of 51 percent ownership by women, veterans or socially disadvantaged people.

However, the SBA closed the portal immediately after processing only about 101,000 priority applications, or one-third of applicants. So, ever since May 24 of last year, “non-priority” applicants have been left wondering if they’d ever receive an RRF grant.

In addition to the premature closure of the application process, the RRF was woefully underfunded. Clearly, that point was driven home when $75 billion in applications were submitted to a fund with just $28.6 billion.

So, the quick closure and unrealistic funding meant that out of the over 362,000 initial applicants, around 177,000 have been watching and waiting.

A Year-long Wait

Shortly after the RRF portal was closed, a number of Republican members of Congress sent a letter to the SBA. Per the contents of the letter, non-priority applicants wouldn’t receive grants or have the opportunity to apply for grants.

Indeed, those applicants stuck in RRF limbo have been waiting for relief for just days shy of a year. And that’s only counting the days since the portal closed. Operators across the industry, not just those who applied for RRF grants, have been scratching and clawing to stave off insolvency and closures.

Advocates such as the Independent Restaurant Coalition have been sounding the alarm. RRF applicants could be just days away from bankruptcy and needed the government to act. To be brutally honest, relief may still come too late for many applicants.

Congress has certainly had the time to vote on and replenish the RRF. In June 2021, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-PA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced the RRF Replenishment Act bill. In July, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) introduced an alternative bill, the ENTREE Act.

Of course, as we well know, an attempt in August to replenish the RRF with $43 billion in emergency funding was blocked by Sen. Paul. In November, Build Back Better was passed. Obviously, the RRF and our industry were left out the $1.7 trillion dollar bill. Likewise, we weren’t included in March’s $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill.

Left Out In the Cold

So, of $3.2 trillion dollars in massive bills passed, zero were earmarked for us.

Today, our senators voted 86 to 11 for $40 billion in aid for Ukraine. However, they voted 52 to 43 to provide $40 billion in aid to American restaurants and bars.

Last month, eleven months after the portal closed, the House voted to replenish the RRF. That left the final push to the Senate.

And today, at least 43 senators made their low opinion of us known.

Image: Alejandro Barba on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Prepare for the New Rules of Hospitality

Prepare for the New Rules of Hospitality

by David Klemt

People toasting with a variety of cocktails

Guests are returning to bars, restaurants, and hotels, so you need to prepare now for the new rules of hospitality.

If you’re wondering what those rules are, wonder no more. We have a number of articles addressing them, some of which are here, here, and here.

Phil Wills, owner and partner of the Spirits in Motion and Bar Rescue alum, also has some thoughts. In fact, Wills shared his approach to what he identifies as the new rules of hospitality last week.


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A post shared by Phil Wills (@phil_i_am11)

During Bar & Restaurant Expo 2022, Wills presented “The New Rules of Hospitality: What a Post-pandemic Consumer Wants.”

Below, you’ll find what Wills has to say about hospitality in 2022 and beyond in three categories.


Wills kicked off his session with a simple question: How do you define “hospitality”? And yes, he put attendees on the spot, asking them for their answers.

It’s always at least a bit amusing that even the most outgoing operator gets shy in a conference setting. I’ve never seen so many people suddenly need to check their phones, shoes, or the ceiling tiles as when they’re asked to participate in a class or education session.

For Wills, the definition is “making a guest feel welcome, as though they’re in your home.”

Obviously, the answer is different for everyone. As Wills says, the key is considering how you and your brand define hospitality. If that seems easier said than done, Wills has some tips, presented in the context of a guest visit.

First, guests take in the sights, sounds, and smells of your space. They also consume your menu items, and converse with your staff, their party, and other guests.

Look at your business through the eyes of your guests. Now, this can be a difficult exercise, particularly if you spend a lot of time in your restaurant, bar or hotel.

So, ask team members to do the same and provide feedback. We take for granted what our spaces, food, and drinks look like.

To improve the guest experience, pay attention to ticket times and F&B consistency. This will reduce recovery incidents and phrases.

Finally, Wills recommends engaging with guests (if that’s what they want). However, he also suggests facilitating connections between guests.

Interestingly, Wills also says, “Regulars are old money. You want to get that new money.” Then, you want to convert that new money into old money. Rinse, repeat.


As relates to training, Wills categorizes new hires in two ways: toll takers and moneymakers.

Toll takers take a toll on your business. They cost you money, and if they don’t receive the proper training they can chase guests away.

So, you’ll need to spend time and money to convert toll takers into moneymakers.

Speaking strictly in a technical sense, training needs to provide team members with the knowledge and tools to become moneymakers. To accomplish this, Wills has three keys to making training stick:

  1. Don’t make training too easy. If training is easy, team members won’t retain what they’re taught. Challenge your staff.
  2. Vary your training. There are a number of training methods at your disposal. Use multiple methods to engage your staff. Wills suggests combining shift work, book work, and tests, at a minimum.
  3. Turn training into a competition. At this point, we’re gamifying just about anything. So, Wills recommends the platform 1Huddle to gamify your training.


Simply put, Wills says we need to find new ways to make this industry exciting to new hires.

According to the National Restaurant Association, we’re still seeing significant job losses in hospitality, foodservice, and lodging and accommodation.

In fact, we’re down 14 percent when it comes to full-service restaurant jobs. For bars and taverns, the number is 25 percent.

For Wills, offering incentives, mental health breaks, and even cash bonuses for staying in role for a number of months can draw the attention of new workers.

However, he also has another interesting idea: making people smile. On average, according to Will’s research, people smile 20 times each day. He wants to find ways to make people smile 20 times during a single visit to a restaurant or bar.

Now, Wills admits he’s still working on how to accomplish this lofty goal. I believe a key component is creating a working environment that inspires team members to smile 20 times per shift.

Image: Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

What Current CDC Guidelines Mean

What Current CDC Guidelines Mean for Restaurants and Bars

"What Now?" graffiti in black spray paint on wall

Less than two weeks ago, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention once again updated the agency’s Covid-19 guidance.

For many in America the updates simply led to more confusion. Others see the changes to CDC guidance as another blow to the agency’s credibility.

The reality of the situation appears to be rather easy to understand. Business owners are most likely ignoring the CDC and just following state and local requirements.

And who can blame operators and their teams for doing so? After all, the guests they serve are likely more concerned about local guidelines than CDC guidance.

States Make First Moves

At this point, it appears the CDC is following rather than leading the way. Several states moved to rescind Covid-19 mandates around two weeks before the CDC changed its guidance.

For example, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak lifted the state’s mask mandate on Thursday, February 10. Unlike in other states, the mandate was rescinded regardless of vaccination status.

Five days later, California lifted its indoor mask mandate for the vaccinated. The unvaccinated, as of February 16, are still required to mask indoors.

However, the requirement for businesses to check for proof of vaccination was also rescinded. Of course, businesses can still require masks and proof of vaccination if they so choose.

So, Now What?

The CDC and many state health officials are encouraging caution. Another surge in infections is expected.

In fact, the CDC points out that Covid-19 has not yet reached its endemic stage. Some predict the pandemic won’t become endemic until some time in 2023.

For now, the CDC is using three designations to identify different areas throughout the country: low risk, medium alert, and high alert.

Per the agency’s website, 90 percent of the US population is in a low-risk or medium-alert area. People can check their community’s current CDC designation via their new map here.

Low, Medium, High

The three CDC designations each carry specific guidance:

  • Low Risk: People should stay current with their vaccinations. If someone has symptoms, they should get tested.
  • Medium Alert: In addition to Low Risk guidance, people who at high risk of serious illness if infected should ask their healthcare providers if they should wear masks indoors and/or take other Covid-19 precautions.
  • High Alert: Wear a mask indoors, stay current with vaccinations, and get tested if symptoms are felt.

Endless CDC guidance revisions have mainly resulted in confusion and an unfortunate lack of faith in the agency. So, these recommendations really don’t mean much for operators.

Rather, business owners should make they’re in compliance with state and local requirements while taking steps to ensure workers, guests, and their community are safe.

Image: Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Durham Distillery’s Pandemic Pivot

Durham Distillery’s Pandemic Pivot

by David Klemt

Durham Distillery Navy Strength Gin in a snowbank

Distillers throughout the world are experiencing supply chain issues affecting their ability to produce and bottle their spirits.

One particular issue impacting distillers—and therefore the businesses that sell their products—is a glass bottle shortage.

Obviously, bottles are every bit as important to a brand as the liquid inside. We would all likely ace a quiz calling for us to match bottle silhouettes and brands.

Of course, other issues are also confounding producers, and the restaurants and bars that rely on them.

Labor challenges throughout the world reduced spirit, beer, and wine production. Using a particular spirit as an example, an agave shortage is impacting tequila.

However, consumption hasn’t slowed. Therefore, many distillers, brewers, and winemakers find themselves unable to meet demand.

The situation is dire enough for some retailers and even entire municipalities to ration certain products.

Pandemic Pivot

A distillery in North Carolina is turning a necessary pivot (everyone’s favorite pandemic word) into a limited-edition run for two of their products.

Durham Distillery, located in Durham, NC, produces CONNIPTION Gin. There are two core expressions, both crafted using traditional methods but with a modern approach.

CONNIPTION Gin American Dry is, of course, crafted with juniper berries. However, there’s also Angelica root, cardamom, cucumber, honeysuckle, Indian coriander, and orange peel.

Durham’s Navy Strength expression of CONNIPTION is crafted with bay leaf, caraway, cardamom, fig, Indian coriander, juniper berries, lemon, and rosemary.

Fans of these gins, along with craft spirit aficionados, are familiar with CONNIPTION’s signature bottle shape: American Dry and Navy Strength use rectangular bottles (see image above).

Faced with either slowing production due to an inability to obtain signature bottles or using a more readily available bottle, Durham Distillery chose the latter.

Durham Distillery CONNIPTION Gin Pandemic Pivot American Dry cylindrical bottle

“Given the global supply chain issues so many of our friends and colleagues here in North Carolina and beyond are currently facing, we knew we had two options: give in or lean in and make the best of the situation while keeping our focus on continuing to deliver our award-winning gin to our amazing, loyal customers throughout the state,” says Durham Distillery co-founder and CEO Melissa Katrincic. “The supply chain had an actual conniption and we’re pleased we could be nimble to pivot to solve for our needs.”

Like Durham’s Cold Distilled Cucumber Vodka, both CONNIPTION expressions are available in a cylindrical bottle. Of course, this is only for a limited time.

In fact, the labels on the round bottles read, “same delicious gin but round,” “NC Exclusive Pandemic Pivot,” and, “Temporary Due to Glass Shortage.”

Durham Distillery CONNIPTION Gin Pandemic Pivot Navy Strength cylindrical bottle

This particular pandemic pivot is deceptively simple. Altering packaging may seem like no big deal but it’s a gamble for established brands.

In the case of Durham’s CONNIPTION, this pivot seems like a fun and engaging win.

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Restrictions: What’s Different in Alberta?

Restrictions: What’s Different in Alberta?

by David Klemt

Peace Bridge red double-helix pedestrian bridge in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

According to Alberta medical officers, it’s time to begin the transition away from Covid-19 mandates and restrictions.

Taking a transition approach means that some restrictions will remain in place for at least the next several days.

However, operators have reason to be cautiously optimistic regarding the lifting of “nearly all” current restrictions.

What’s Different Now?

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, says Alberta is now in a transition period. The province is attempting to adjust from a pandemic response to an endemic response to Covid-19.

In other words, Alberta authorities are seeking a return to pre-pandemic normalcy. Of course, lifting mandates and adjusting to “normal” life will take time, cautions Dr. Hinshaw.

Premier Jason Kenney says that “now is the time to begin learning to live with Covid.”

Clearly, the biggest change came in the repealing of Alberta’s vaccine passport program. Also known as REP, the Restrictions Exemption Program is no longer in use.

However, a number of restrictions will remain in place until at least March 1.

Restaurant, bar, pub, nightclub, and cafe operators are subject to the following:

  • Capacity limit of 500 for venues with fire occupancy of 500 to 999.
  • Capacity limit of 50 percent for businesses with fire occupancy of 1,000 or more.
  • Liquor service must end at 11:00 PM.
  • In-person service must end at 12:30 PM.
  • Mingling between tables is prohibited.
  • Maximum party capacity per table is ten people.
  • Unfortunately, dancing, darts, billiards, and other “interactive activities” are prohibited.

In better news, both indoor and outdoor dining are permitted. Also, venues with fire occupancy under 500 are no longer subject to capacity limits.

What Else is Changing?

Currently, Alberta is in Step 1 of the province’s plan to ease Covid-19 mandates, restrictions, and measures.

Should all go well—hospitalizations trending downward—the province will enter Step 2:

  • Indoor mask requirement lifted.
  • Indoor and outdoor social gathering restrictions lifted.
  • All large venues and entertainment venues will have capacity restrictions lifted.

Of course, Step 3 will represent the greatest move toward a return to normal life in Alberta. However, there is no date set against entering Step 3.

Should the targets that will trigger the final step in the three-step plan be hit, mandatory isolation will transition from a requirement to a recommendation. In addition, Covid-19-specific continuing care measures will be removed.

Given the possibility of major restrictions lifting in just under a week, operators, their team members, and the guests they serve have reason to be optimistic.

Image: Denisse Leon on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Restrictions: What’s Different in Ontario?

Restrictions: What’s Different in Ontario?

by David Klemt

Toronto, Ontario, Canada skyline viewed from harbor at dusk

Changes involving Covid-19 restrictions have come to the province of Ontario, Canada, the location of the global KRG Hospitality headquarters.

Las Vegas is home to KRG’s American headquarters. The state of Nevada eliminated its indoor mask mandate nearly three weeks ago.

Ontario’s restriction-easing plans should be welcome news for current and future operators throughout the province.

Per Ontario premiers, these changes are due to a reduction in Covid-19 hospitalizations. Reportedly, further pandemic-related changes are due today, with more coming down March 14.

What’s Different Now?

Most notably, indoor capacity restrictions for restaurants and bars are no longer in place. However, this is somewhat nuanced at the moment.

Per the current reading of Ontario’s public health measures, only venues that require proof of vaccination may return to 100-percent indoor capacity.

As the order reads, the following businesses are subject to “no capacity limits [indoors]…where proof of vaccination is required:

  • restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments without dance facilities;
  • casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments;
  • cinemas; and
  • indoor areas of other settings that choose to “opt-in” to proof of vaccination requirements.

Operators of stadiums, arenas, and concert venues may now operate at 50-percent capacity

Nightclubs and other establishments that serve food and/or drink and have “dance facilities” and also require proof of vaccination are restricted to an indoor capacity of 25 percent.

Again, these changes are reportedly temporary. The province’s premiers and several outlets report that Covid-19 restrictions will be lifted further in March.

What Else is Changing?

Clearly, the biggest planned change involves proof of vaccination.

The province of Ontario appears to be embracing optimism. Additionally, one can argue that premiers are choosing to reward Ontarians for helping drive down hospitalization rates.

Should the plan be followed, should hospitalizations not increase, proof-of-vaccination requirements will be lifted March 1. In fact, Ontario’s mandatory vaccine passport system will also be lifted on March 1 if everything goes to plan.

Additionally, indoor capacity limits will return to 100 percent “in all indoor public settings.”

However, on March 1, face coverings and the “active/passive” screening of guests will remain in place. Also, operators can choose to require proof of vaccination voluntarily.

Reporting on what to expect by March 14 is murky. Analyzing Ontario premier Doug Ford’s words regarding these developments may offer a clue.

“We will need to keep masking in place for just a little bit longer,” said Ford. Perhaps Ontario can expect mask requirements to be lifted by or on March 14.

Of course, a certain level of skepticism regarding Ontario’s restriction-lifting plan is justified. Optimism is healthy but it’s not a business strategy.

That said, allowing for cautious optimism, the province’s plans is still welcome news. If Ontarians remain patient and vigilant, life and operations may return to normal in just three to four weeks.

Image: Alex on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

States Rescinding Mask Mandates

States Rescinding Mask Mandates

by David Klemt

Two blue medical face masks on a white background

In welcome news, it seems that this is the week that mask mandates in several states throughout America are falling, with a few caveats.

The governors of several states are announcing they’re rescinding the mandates. However, masks must still be worn in some locations.

In some cases, these mandates will expire next week or later. But in others, Nevada, for example, the governor’s announcement was effective immediately.

Regardless, below you’ll find the states that are doing away with mask mandates.

One important note, schools and care facilities tend to be governed by separate indoor mask mandates than private businesses, cultural centers, and other venues.


The Golden State is ending the indoor mask requirement for the vaccinated, effective Tuesday, February 15. Also, unvaccinated people will be required to wear masks indoors in public areas.

However, it’s rumored that Los Angeles and other counties may choose to keep current mandates in place past next week.


“I think now we’re at a different place, I think the numbers say we’re at a different place, and I think the people of Connecticut have earned it,” said Governor Ned Lamont yesterday.

Of particular note, the Constitution State’s mask mandate is set to expire on February 28.


On Monday, Governor John Carney signed an order that lifts Delaware’s “universal indoor mask mandate” today. Masks are no longer required in restaurants, bars, and other public spaces.


Should Governor JB Pritzker’s plan move ahead smoothly, the Prairie State’s indoor mask mandate will be lifted at the end of this month. However, businesses and local authorities can still require masks indoors.

Schools in Illinois, as they are in other states, fall under a separate indoor mask mandate. Therefore, until otherwise addressed, masks will still be required to be worn inside schools.


Regardless of vaccination status, the Silver State’s indoor mask mandate is lifted. Governor Steve Sisolak made the announcement yesterday, effective immediately.

As with other states, businesses may still ask patrons to wear masks when indoors in their venues.

New York

In New York City, restaurant operators must still ask for proof of vaccination. However, if a hotel property allows masks to come off in lobbies, that is permitted. Unvaccinated people can follow the same mask guidance as vaccinated people—if a business allows it.

Now, in New York State, masks are no longer required to dine indoors unless the business or local authorities say otherwise.

New Jersey

To be clear, the Garden State’s mask news pertains mostly to schools. This is because New Jersey didn’t impose mask requirements for restaurants and other indoor venues during the outbreak of Omicron.


Now, when it comes to the Beaver State, things are moving a bit more slowly regarding indoor mask mandates. As it stands now, Oregon’s indoor mask mandate will expire “by March 31.” When the mandate is lifted, businesses will be free to set their own mask policies.

However, the mandate may be rescinded earlier than March 31 if Covid-19 hospitalizations drop to 400 or less occupied beds.

Rhode Island

Like Delaware, Rhode Island’s indoor mask mandate ends today. Until today, the Ocean State had a requirement to either show proof of vaccination or wear a mask when indoors.

Image: Jeremy Bezanger on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Independent Operators are Making Changes

Despite Challenges, Independent Operators are Making Changes for the Better

by David Klemt

White and red neon restaurant sign that reads "Kitchen Open"

Independent Restaurant Coalition survey results show our industry is still struggling but some operators are making positive changes.

The hospitality industry absolutely needs and deserves help. The Restaurant Revitalization Fund absolutely needs replenishing.

However, hospitality continues to prove its resiliency, adaptability, and innovation.

It must be said, though, that it’s exhausting for owners, operators, and workers to have to constantly be resilient. Sometimes, the industry needs help. It’s past time for help to come.

But, I digress. Back to the IRC and their recently released survey results.

Still Overwhelmed

The IRC surveyed close to 1,200 respondents who are part of the restaurant and bar community. Survey participants represented all 50 states in the US.

Some respondents received RRF grants, some did not. Of course, receiving a grant wasn’t a silver bullet for surviving the pandemic.

However, the grants certainly helped:

  • Nineteen percent of grant recipients took out personal loans since February 2020. In comparison, that number more than doubles to 41 percent for those who didn’t receive grants.
  • Since the beginning of the pandemic, five percent of grant recipients took on additional investors. Again, that number more than doubles for operators who received no RRF grants. Eleven percent took on more investors to survive.
  • Due to the omicron variant of Covid-19, grant recipients had to reduce staff by 21 percent on average. Their counterparts had to decrease staff, on average, by 30 percent.
  • When it comes to selling off a personal asset to help their business survive the pandemic, ten percent of grant recipients did so. For those who didn’t receive an RRF grant, that number increases more than two-and-a-half times to 26 percent.

The challenges—an inadequate word, truly—have led to industry-wide changes. Per the IRC’s survey:

  • Hiring challenges have impacted 91 percent of independent restaurants and bars.
  • Menu prices were hiked up by 89 percent of independent businesses.
  • Nearly half—42 percent—reported to the IRC that they had pivoted to alternate business models after ceasing indoor and outdoor service.
  • Six percent of independent restaurants and bars pivoted to offering outdoor dining only.

Progress Being Made

Operators have been facing hiring challenges for several months now. In response, some operators offer various incentives.

As examples: meals for honoring scheduled interviews; cash for showing up to interviews; large cash bonuses for remaining in position for 90 or more days.

However, none of the above really address longstanding, widespread issues hospitality workers have given as reasons for quitting jobs (and the industry entirely).

To name just two, livable wages and benefits. Despite the challenges operators are facing, they have made positive changes. We’re not talking a small percentage, either.

Per the IRC, independent businesses reported the following changes:

  • 84 percent of restaurants increased wages.
  • 37 percent of restaurants, bars and other independent hospitality businesses added paid sick leave to the benefits they provide.
  • 21 percent of employers have added paid vacation to their benefits.

These changes (and others) are a promising start, showing that operators are listening to workers. Bringing traffic and revenue back to pre-pandemic levels—and beyond—is a great goal. But how will the industry get there?

One answer is for operators to listen to the hospitality professionals they rely on for their businesses to thrive. Listening, and then acting in meaningful ways.

Image: Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash