The Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) is announcing an extension of the Downtown Delivers program for restaurants in response to the latest public health restrictions.
On Monday, B.C. health officials announced that all indoor dine-in service at restaurants and bars would be suspended until April 19 as a result of surging cases.
What this means for restaurants is that any food and liquor-serving premises must only offer take-out or delivery services. All indoor dine-in services will be prohibited with the exception of outdoor patio seating.
“We felt in this critical time, this is one way we can really support our local restaurants during what’s going to be a very difficult three weeks,” said Jeff Bray, executive director of DVBA.
The Downtown Delivers program was launched on Dec. 3, designed by the DVBA to encourage Victorians to shop local while still staying home by covering the cost of delivery for both the customer and retailer. So far, Bray said the DVBA has contributed $130,000 towards courier costs and delivery charges for retail and restaurants.
“What the DVBA will do is cover the delivery charge for the customer and cover the commission charge for the restaurant,” said Bray. “But we’re still paying the delivery drivers. It’s free for customers and it’s free for the restaurant.”
Restaurant customers within 20 kilometres of downtown Victoria can enjoy free delivery from participating downtown restaurants when ordering through the Tutti app, a local delivery company.
To get free meal delivery, download the Tutti app. Eligible restaurants are located under the “DVBA Free Delivery” heading within the app.
“By supporting businesses through Downtown Delivers, it helps to keep money flowing into those businesses, so that as soon as the restrictions lift, they have the best ability to ramp up their operations, hire back those critical staff and get back to the new normal,” Bray said.
On Wednesday, the DVBA announced it will continue subsidizing delivery costs for downtown restaurants and their customers using the Tutti app until April 19th.
Through Downtown Delivers, eligible restaurants using Tutti for delivery do not pay the usual 10 – 15% charged by delivery services. They get to keep 100 per cent of the proceeds as long as the program is in effect.
Food deliveries from local restaurants are made by local courier companies, through the local delivery app, for local customers.
Supporting local is the purpose, Bray said.
“At the end of the day, we want people to support their local restaurants for the next three weeks,” he added. “Do an extra takeout meal, an extra delivery and support those restaurants because it keeps all the money local.”
Roast Meat and Sandwich Shop in downtown Victoria is one of the restaurants that is taking part in the program.
“[This] is huge for a small business owner, especially with these new restrictions in place,” said Maryanne Carmack, who owns the restaurant. “To have the option of a third-party delivery service and the fees not being as much is [huge]. Anything, any pennies will help a small business stay open.”
The best part, Carmack added, is that the delivery app is local too.
“If everybody could just jump on board and change [from bigger companies] to support a local delivery company like Tutti then it would help them as a small business and it would help us as well,” she said, because the money spent stays within the local community.