Meeting Your Food Service Challenges in the New Normal

Meeting Your Food Service Challenges in the New Normal

At the best of times, operating a food service business carries a great deal of risk. Achieving culinary excellence and steady clientele requires a difficult balancing act. It’s hard enough to find kitchen talent and quality supply, but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced Toronto area businesses to tighten their belts under the longest quarantine of all the world’s major urban centres. From the BBC:

The city, which with a population of three million is the biggest in Canada, was put under a provincial emergency stay-at-home order on 8 April this year, as the country overtook the US in new cases per million. The order has been extended until at least 2 June. Before that, the city was under some form of lockdown from 10 October, when the second wave (and then the third wave) began to hit. All told, you've been unable to sit down to a meal in a Toronto restaurant for just over 360 days.

COVID-19 is not the originator of all the challenges facing restaurants and food vendors today, but it has amplified them to an unprecedented degree. The universal issues of staffing, customer volume, general overhead and supply affect every business at one time or another, but they rarely occur simultaneously across the globe.

From the most popular high-volume restaurants to the smallest local treasures, every single member of the Greater Toronto Area’s food service community has been negatively impacted. These problems can happen to anyone and often do, but this experience has put everyone in the same boat, and forces our industry to examine issues that have been overlooked in the past. It also demonstrates just how vital dining out is to our culture, and provides a social metric for an urban area’s economic health.

Because COVID-19 is a world-wide event, supply has taken on a new level of importance. The pandemic has provided many sectors with a crash-course in dealing with issues of scarcity, and the food service industry is one of the chief examples. Whether you’re locally focused or globally rated, the past year has affected your bottom line.

When it comes to supply problems, Mia Foods has your solutions.

Restaurant Realities

Everyone has suffered from the global pandemic, and the food service industry has suffered most of all. For Toronto area food services providers, this has created a knock-on effect that has resulted in the closure of a huge number of local businesses, and the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs. Taste Toronto investigates the colossal impact COVID-19 has had on our industry.

According to a survey conducted by Restaurants Canada, a non-profit organization that represents the food industry, 1 in 10 Canadian restaurants have already permanently closed. One out of two independent restaurants surveyed admitted that they may not survive the next three months. More than 800,000 restaurant workers are currently unemployed due to shutdowns.

The rise of delivery services has been a mixed blessing — for businesses that can afford the overhead. They’ve enabled restaurants to continue to provide their product to the customer, but both customer and business have seen an increase in prices. Small businesses that can’t meet those overhead costs have collapsed en masse, harmed by the inflated costs of corporate supply and third-party distribution.

Safe access to public dining has become the measure by which a community evaluates the viral threat. With vaccines now becoming widely available, the prospect of economic stabilization is on the horizon, but there is still a tremendous amount of recovery that will be necessary in order to return the food service market to pre-COVID viability.

Discussion of “the New Normal” accounts for seasonal return of potential viral variants, but must include strategies to manage extreme economic downturns for vulnerable local businesses. Mia Foods has worked to integrate itself into this process so that you can plan ahead with the confidence that you won’t find yourself the victim of corporate exploitation. It’s our mission to ensure third-party interests do not get between you and your customers. 

Securing the Supply Chain

Every chef or kitchen manager has experienced insufficient supply problems. Occasionally that shortage can be remedied by taking someone off the line for ten minutes and sending them to the nearby grocery store. This can be disruptive, but it usually isn’t fatal to the evening’s service. But what if you run out of flour for your pizza dough, or paper products for your washroom’s facilities, and your employee returns to tell you that the shelves are empty?

This is exactly what happened in the Fall of 2019, when global panic created a run on certain products. It’s true that we’ve learned a great deal since then about how to stabilize the global supply chain, but closed borders and restricted staffing still affects availability of certain products. Uncertain communication and reduced shipping speeds have meant that restaurants struggling to keep their kitchens running have been forced to reduce their menus, and lay off employees.

These problems have not been helped by corporate suppliers, who routinely require costly order minimums, and who can increase their pricing at will. Corporations like Gordon Food Service and Sysco are universally reviled by local dining businesses for their profligate disregard for the needs of their customers. Add a pandemic or any other large scale economic downturn and these companies have carte blanche to define “scarcity” however they wish, and adjust pricing according to that definition.

Mia Foods has no minimum costs. Mia will never artificially inflate pricing in order to turn a greater profit at your expense. We will do everything we can to help you get ahead of supply costs by stocking local and international items, reducing international shipping, and ensuring our own supply chain is secure.

Mia Budgets to Fit Your Business

Members of the GTA food service community all share in this same uncertainty. Collectively, we’ve experienced something profoundly destabilizing - but all dining businesses have experienced these difficulties at some point. It takes a degree of ingenuity, hustle and fortitude to attempt the risk of opening your own business, especially when that business is a restaurant, food truck or pastry counter. In good times and bad, you need a local supplier you can count on.

Mia Foods is the clear choice, with a unique, small-business oriented mandate. These are just some of the reasons to make Mia your local supply partner for everything from baking supplies to branded products.

  • Based locally, Mia reduces the number of steps between you and your order. No border crossing, no semi-trucks and full accountability.
  • Mia has no order minimum — this enables you to keep your costs low during lean times.
  • Mia stocks international foods, meaning you don’t wait for shipping, and you don’t pay additional costs for it.
  • Good customer service and flexible same day or next day delivery means you don’t have to wait for delays.
  • Mia is part of your market, and we thrive on your success — we will always do what we can to support you.

Getting You Back to Business

No one knows what’s coming next. There’s evidence that we may have to adapt to an ongoing public health crisis, but we’ve also learned to come together. The culinary experience, whether it’s being able to enjoy a cup of coffee and a muffin at your favourite cafe, or attending a birthday dinner in a busy restaurant, has been confirmed as a vital part of our society. The availability of these experiences aren’t just a luxury, they’re part of Toronto’s social identity, and the demand for their return is evidence of how much we rely on dining out as part of our social fabric.

2020 has been the most brutal year on record for the restaurant industry, and Toronto has been hit particularly hard. Being part of your community means Mia will go above and beyond to help your food service business weather all challenges, regardless of whether that’s a pandemic, a slow week, or just awkward construction in front of your door.

Mia Foods’ promise means no minimums, less waiting, the best local service according to your budget — no matter what.