Conditions created by the pandemic call for another re-imagining of the Cafe. For the past summer, we modified our previous model to accommodate the protocols necessitated by COVID-19. However, it’s clear that the pandemic is significantly changing the food scene for the long term. The industry expects 40% of restaurants in BC to go out of business by the end of 2020; this could be as high as 60% if restrictions continue to increase. The reasons have to do with both a significant decrease in the number of customers as well as increased costs; we are seeing at least a one-third decrease in the number of customers, and we expect this to last at least as long as the pandemic lasts. The increased costs, of course, come from additional staff and safety equipment. Our Cafe was simply trying to break even for the past few months – taking advantage of the busy summer season to pay for the operation the rest of the year. However, with business slowing down again, we cannot continue to run things in the same way. Fortunately, people are looking for different and interesting foods to try at home and, frankly, some of us are growing tired of cooking for ourselves all the time! Instead of trying new restaurants, we are trying new foods from the grocery store. Also, we are becoming more concerned about our food system – what ingredients are in our food, where our food is coming from, and who’s making it. The Co-op has always been about sourcing and providing healthy and local food, and BC has a vibrant and nourishing food scene.
After considering these various factors, we have decided to take the Cafe in a new direction that’s more like a deli than a traditional cafe. For starters, everything we make will be sold in the cafe space – fresh-made coffee everyday, all the food from the kitchen, and all the food from the bakery,
including the bread. We will do away with most of the hot food on the menu, except for soup and pizza. Instead, we will bring you a new variety of sandwiches and salads. Along with that, to complement what we make and serve, we will carry meats, cheeses, and other ready-to-eat items from small businesses in BC — we’re really excited to show off the excellent food-makers from our region! In addition, we intend to produce a new set of pre-made foods that you can prepare at home, such as pizzas, dips, frozen soups, frozen casseroles, spanokopitas, phyllo dough, and more.
These changes will obviously bring a different look and feel to the Cafe space. Because of the COVID-19 restrictions, the space was a bit stark and bare this summer; however, we’re ready to bring it back to life. You can expect similar over the counter service as before, and we’ll be adding a display cooler and a display freezer to hold the new prepared foods available for purchase. You’ll also see all of the baked goods on display and, eventually, a selection of BC-made ingredients that we use in the foods we make (such as flours). We also intend to set aside an area for interior seating again – small but mighty, we hope!
Believe it or not, these changes will help us be able to keep the Cafe space open more of the time! Right now, we intend to have at least one person ready to serve you every day of the week. On select days, we’ll have espresso drinks, soup, and pizza available during the first half of the day, and you can buy everything right at the Cafe counter. In the afternoons and on other days, you can browse the rest of the foods, pick up what you’d like, and take it to the store for purchase. We expect to close the Cafe briefly later this month in order to prepare for this big change. Look for an announcement later when we will be closed for a week or two, and then prepare yourself for a new experience. We’re truly excited to introduce you to our new model, and look forward to serving you the beautiful housemade food from our Co-op as well as delicious food from the rest of BC.