Transcript: Can Restaurants Survive Ontario's Reopening? | Jun 09, 2021

Steve sits in a room with white walls, a low slanted ceiling and several framed pictures on the walls including one of George Drew. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a white shirt and a spotted blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Can restaurants survive Ontario's re-opening? @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says FOR MORE THAN A YEAR... A YEAR... A VAST PERCENTAGE OF RESTAURANTS IN THIS PROVINCE HAVE BEEN CLOSED TO IN-PERSON DINING. AND, FOR MANY, OPENING A PATIO THIS FRIDAY WILL MEAN THE FIRST TIME SERVING CUSTOMERS SOMETHING OTHER THAN CARRY-OUT SINCE LATE LAST FALL. WITH US ON WHAT ALL THIS MEANS FOR THE INDUSTRY: WE'RE JOINED IN WINNIPEG, MANITOBA: COREY MINTZ, FOOD REPORTER, WHOSE WORK HAS APPEARED ON OUR WEBSITE, TVO.ORG, IN THE NEW YORK TIMES, AND THE WALRUS, AMONG OTHERS...

Corey is in his late thirties, bald, with a trimmed goatee. He's wearing a black shirt.

Steve continues IN THE JUNCTION NEIGHBOURHOOD OF THE PROVINCIAL CAPITAL: JOHN SINOPOLI, EXECUTIVE CHEF AND OWNER OF THE ASCARI HOSPITALITY GROUP, AND CO-FOUNDER OF A COALITION OF INDEPENDENT RESTAURANTS CALLED, SAVE HOSPITALITY...

John is in his forties, bald, with a stubble. He's wearing glasses and a white shirt.

Steve continues AND IN NORTH YORK: NICKY CHARLES, CO-OWNER, WITH HER SISTERS, OF SugarKane RESTAURANT...

Nicky is in her thirties, with long wavy brown hair. She's wearing a blue blouse and silver hoop earrings.

Steve continues GREAT TO WELCOME ALL OF YOU TO TVO TONIGHT AND THANKS FOR JOINING US FOR THIS VERY IMPORTANT AND TIMELY CONVERSATION. JOHN, TO YOU FIRST. PHASE ONE OF ONTARIO'S BIG REOPENING PLAN BEGINS ON FRIDAY. THAT MEANS PATIOS WITH TABLES OF 4 CAN REOPEN, EVEN IF THE FOUR ARE FROM DIFFERENT HOUSEHOLDS. BIGGER TABLES ALLOWED IF FROM A SINGLE HOUSEHOLD. THAT'S A CHANGE. HOW BIG A DIFFERENCE WILL THIS MAKE TO THE RESTAURANT BUSINESS?

The caption changes to "John Sinopoli. Ascari Hospitality Group."

John says IT'S HUGE. IT'S REVENUE, LIKE YOU SAID, OTHER THAN TAKEOUT OR SOME FORM OF ONLINE BUSINESS, SO WE WELCOME IT WITH SMILING FACES AND OPEN ARMS AND WE CAN'T WAIT FOR THE NEXT PHASE AS WELL.

Steve says NICKY, HOW ABOUT FOR YOUR BUSINESS? WHAT'S IT GOING TO MEAN?

The caption changes to "Nicky Charles. Sugarkane Restaurant."

Nicky says IT MEANS THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. WE'RE SO EXCITED. WE'RE JUST READY TO GO. WE'RE READY TO GO. WE'RE TRYING TO GET OUR EMPLOYEES BACK IN AND GET STARTED.

Steve says COREY?

The caption changes to "Corey Mintz. Food Writer."

Corey says WELL, I'M IN MANITOBA WHERE WE'RE NOT ALLOWED TO EVEN BE IN EACH OTHER'S BACK YARDS. I'M NOT EVEN ALLOWED TO SHAKE MY WIFE'S HAND. SO WE'RE NOT OPENING PATIO SERVICE HERE. BUT WE'RE LOOKING AT PEOPLE IN ONTARIO AND EVERYONE IS THRILLED, ALTHOUGH CERTAINLY A LOT OF WORKERS THAT I'VE SPOKEN TO OVER THE LAST SIX MONTHS, HAVE VERY MIXED FEELINGS ABOUT THIS.

Steve says LET'S FOLLOW UP ON THAT WITH YOU, COREY. YES, THE PATIOS ARE CONSIDERED SAFE FOR PATRONS. BUT HOW SAFE DOES IT FEEL FOR THE WORKERS YOU'VE TALKED TO, THE KITCHEN STAFF, THE FRONT OF HOUSE STAFF, THOSE FOLKS?

The caption changes to "Corey Mintz, @coreymintz."

Corey says I CAN'T CLAIM TO REPRESENT EVERYONE BUT EVERYONE I HAVE SPOKEN TO, THOSE WHO ARE CONTINUING IN THE RESTAURANT FIELD... WE ALL KNOW THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE DROPPED OUT AND ARE CONTINUING TO DROP OUT. BUT THERE'S AN EXCITEMENT TO RETURN TO WORK. PEOPLE MISS DOING WHAT THEY DO BECAUSE THEY LOVE DOING IT. BUT AT THE SAME TIME MANY ARE FEELING SCARRED FROM THE EXPERIENCE THEY HAD LAST SUMMER WHEN THERE WAS PATIO SERVICE FOR A LIMITED TIME AND THEY HAD TO DEAL WITH A LOT OF CUSTOMERS, MAYBE A MINORITY OF CUSTOMERS BUT A VERY VOCAL AND DIFFICULT GROUP OF CUSTOMERS, WHO WERE ANTIMASKERS, DIDN'T WANT TO PUT IT ON INSIDE, WERE HOSTILE, AND LEFT PEOPLE JUST FEELING UNSAFE, AND I THINK THAT MAKES PEOPLE NERVOUS ABOUT GOING BACK TO A NEW DYNAMIC.

Steve says JOHN, CAN I ASK YOU ABOUT HOW YOU INTEND TO HANDLE THE EMPLOYEE ANGLE?

The caption changes to "John Sinopoli, @JohnASinopoli."

John says YEAH. WE'VE BEEN IN DISCUSSIONS WITH OUR TEAM ONE-ON-ONE AND AS A GROUP FOR THE WHOLE PANDEMIC, TRYING TO KEEP THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION OPEN. AND OUR NUMBER ONE GOAL WITH REOPENING IS KEEPING PEOPLE SAFE AND KEEPING OUR EMPLOYEES SAFE FIRST AND FOREMOST. SO WE'VE PUT IN PLACE EVERY PROTOCOL AND BEST PRACTICE WE KNOW OF, WE CAN THINK ABOUT, TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY FEEL LIKE THEY'RE IN AN ENVIRONMENT WHERE THEIR HEALTH AND SAFETY IS THE NUMBER ONE PRIORITY.

Steve says NICKY, WHAT'S THE SITUATION AT YOUR PLACE?

Nicky says YEAH, THAT'S EXACTLY THE SAME. EVERYBODY IS EXCITED TO COME BACK. AND I THINK... I THINK THERE'S A LITTLE BIT MORE UNDERSTANDING OF... I MEAN, ABOUT CoVID IN GENERAL AND SO PEOPLE ARE NOT AS AFRAID AS WHEN WE WERE OPEN LAST YEAR VERY BRIEFLY. SO COMING BACK INTO IT, WE KIND OF KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT. WE'RE GOING TO DO A LITTLE BIT OF RETRAINING WITH THE STAFF SO THAT WE'RE, YOU KNOW, MAKING SURE THAT WE'RE SANITIZING AND DOING EVERYTHING WE CAN TO KEEP EVERYBODY SAFE.

Steve says THIS MAY BE AN OBVIOUS QUESTION, NICKY, BUT I PRESUME THE RULES ARE GOING TO BE STAFF MASKS ON INSIDE OR OUTSIDE ALL THE TIME?

Nicky says EXACTLY. THE STAFF, EVERYBODY IS WEARING MASKS. WE'RE DOING SANITIZING AFTER EVERYBODY... LIKE, ANY CUSTOMERS LEAVE THE TABLE. WE'RE MAKING SURE... EVERYTHING FROM THE TABLES TO THE CUTLERY TO THE CHAIRS THAT THEY'RE SITTING ON, WE'RE NOT TAKING ANY CHANCES AT ALL.

Steve says JOHN, THIS MAY NOT BE A FAIR QUESTION, BUT, YOU KNOW, WE'RE IN A VERY POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT THESE DAYS AND THESE KINDS OF ISSUES THAT I'M ABOUT TO RAISE, THEY DO COME UP. WE HEARD DOUG FORD THE PREMIER SAY THE OTHER DAY HE HAD DONE INTERNAL POLLING FOR THE GOVERNMENT. HE HAD ASKED PEOPLE FOR OPINIONS ON REOPENING THE SCHOOLS, FOR EXAMPLE, EVEN IF IT HURTS THE ECONOMY, SHOULD WE REOPEN THE QUESTIONS. AND APPARENTLY THE ANSWER HE GOT BACK, THE MAJORITY SAID THEY DIDN'T WANT TO JEOPARDIZE THE REOPENING PLAN SO THE SCHOOLS STAY CLOSED. IT'S PROBABLY INEVITABLE THEREFORE THAT THERE'S GOING TO BE SOME CRITICISM THAT RESTAURANTS ARE ALLOWED TO BE OPEN AND PATIOS ARE ALLOWED TO BE OPEN BUT THE SCHOOLS HAVE TO STAY CLOSED. WHAT DO YOU DO... HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THAT KIND OF CRITICISM?

John says YEAH, I MEAN, THAT'S TOUGH. I MEAN, MY RESPONSE TO ANY CUSTOMER BRINGING THAT UP WOULD BE, IT'S NOT OUR CHOICE. WE'RE DEALT THE HAND WE'RE GIVEN BY THIS GOVERNMENT AND WE HAVE, TO BE FRANK, NOT DEALT A GOOD HAND ALL YEAR LONG. THIS GOVERNMENT HAS MISMANAGED THE PANDEMIC TO SUCH AN EXTENT THAT WE HAVE REMAINED CLOSED LONGER THAN ANY OTHER JURISDICTION. WE ARE COMING OFF... JUNE 4TH WAS A HORRIBLE ANNIVERSARY OF 365 DAYS OF CLOSURE OVER THE COURSE OF THE PANDEMIC. BY THE TIME INDOOR DINING IS ALLOWED TO REOPEN IN JULY AT SOME POINT, IT WILL BE WELL OVER 400 DAYS OF INDOOR DINING CLOSURES. SO WE'RE HAPPY TO BE OPEN. OUR TEAMS NEED TO WORK. THEY NEED TO PAY THEIR BILLS AND NEED TO FEED THEIR FAMILIES. THE OWNERS OF ALL THESE RESTAURANTS ARE UNDER INCREDIBLE FINANCIAL AND EMOTIONAL STRESS GIVEN ALL THE EXTRA DEBT AND UNCERTAINTY AND, YOU KNOW, WE'VE INVESTED OUR LIVES IN OUR BUSINESSES. SO IT IS TOUGH. FOR ME, YOU KNOW, I'M NOT GOING TO COMMENT ON SCHOOL CLOSURES. I'M NOT AN EXPERT IN THAT REALM. ALL I KNOW THAT RESTAURANTS, OUTDOOR DINING IS NOW SAFE. CASE NUMBERS ARE DOWN. VACCINATIONS ARE UP. WE LOOK FORWARD TO CONTINUING THIS TREND, KEEP OPERATING IN A SAFE MANNER SO THAT THE PUBLIC CAN TRUST THAT WHAT WE'RE DOING IS OF NO RISK TO THE GENERAL HEALTH AND WELFARE OF ONTARIANS.

Steve says COREY, I SHOULD GET YOU TO WEIGH IN ON THIS ASPECT OF IT. YOU KNOW, THERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT WAYS OF LOOKING AT HOW THIS PANDEMIC HAS AFFECTED OUR SOCIETY. OBVIOUSLY WHAT IT'S DONE TO OUR HOSPITALS, WHAT IT'S DONE TO OUR SCHOOLS. HECK, IF YOU WANT TO BE FLIP, WHAT IT'S DONE TO OUR GOLF COURSES. HOW ABOUT RESTAURANTS? DO YOU THINK THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO HAS MADE THE RIGHT CALLS AS IT RELATES TO HANDLING RESTAURANTS OVER THE PAST YEAR AND CHANGE?

Corey says NO. I MEAN, YOU LOOK AT THE FEDERAL PROVINCIAL, AND MUNICIPAL RESPONSES VERY DIFFERENTLY. BUT IT SEEMS LIKE OVER THE LAST YEAR, YOU KNOW, WHAT IS TWO RESTAURATEURS SALES PACE WAS NEVERTHELESS A LIGHTNING PACE FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO BE ROLLING OUT THE VARIOUS WAGE SUBSIDIES, RENT SUBSIDIES, FOR ALL THE CRITICISM OF THOSE PROGRAMS. AT A PROVINCIAL LEVEL THERE'S BEEN SUCH A LACK OF COMMUNICATION AND I THINK WE ONLY NEED TO POINT TO THE EXAMPLE OF... YOU KNOW, WHAT WAS IT IN MARCH WHERE RESTAURANTS WERE TOLD THEY COULD OPEN TO SOME DEGREE AND THEN WITHIN WEEKS WERE TOLD TO CLOSE AGAIN AND THEY ALL INCURRED RIDICULOUS EXPENSES OF RESTAFFING AND RESTOCKING. I THINK THERE'S JUST A FAILURE REPEATEDLY TO UNDERSTAND WHAT THE BUSINESS IS ACTUALLY LIKE.

Steve says NICKY, CAN I GET YOU ON THAT TOO?

Nicky says YEAH, THAT'S EXACTLY RIGHT. YOU KNOW, YOU CAN'T JUST OPEN AND CLOSE A RESTAURANT. IT TAKES TIME. LIKE YOU SAID, RESTOCKING THINGS, WE'RE GETTING OUR EMPLOYEES READY, OUR FOOD, JUST PURCHASING THINGS, AND THAT REALLY HIT HARD IN MARCH WHEN WE WERE TOLD TO BE OPEN AND EVERYBODY WAS REALLY CAUTIOUS. I THINK A LOT OF OTHER RESTAURATEURS THAT I WAS SPEAKING WITH WERE VERY CAUTIOUS ABOUT OPENING AND WE KIND OF WENT AHEAD AND DID IT AND TO BE TOLD THAT WE HAVE TO CLOSE RIGHT AFTER THAT, RIGHT AFTER OPENING WAS JUST... IT'S JUST SO HARD. IT'S HARD FINANCIALLY. IT'S HARD JUST LIKE MENTALLY. IT JUST WASN'T A GOOD IDEA... NOT A GOOD IDEA AND NOT A GOOD TIME AT ALL.

Steve says LET ME FOLLOW UP ON THAT FINANCIAL ANGLE SINCE YOU BROUGHT IT UP. YOU ARE GOING TO BE ALLOWED TO HAVE PATIOS OPEN NOW. NOT THE INDOORS, BUT THE PATIOS. CAN YOU BREAK EVEN WITH PATIO ONLY SERVICE?

Nicky says FOR US, I THINK WE'LL BE FINE WITH THE PATIO SERVICE. THANK GOODNESS FOR THE CAFE T.O. PROGRAM THAT WE HAVE GOING ON. SO WE HAVE A CURBSIDE DINING WHICH WILL GIVE US AT LEAST 25 SEATS. SO 25 SEATS AS OPPOSED TO JUST HAVING TAKEOUT AND DELIVERY IS WONDERFUL. SO WE'LL AT LEAST BE ABLE TO PAY THE BILLS AND MAYBE NOT PAY OURSELVES BUT PAY THE BILLS, AND WE SHOULD BE GOOD.

Steve says I GUESS WE SHOULD REMIND EVERYBODY THAT YOU BARELY GOT OPEN BEFORE CoVID HIT, RIGHT? WHEN DID YOU OPEN UP AGAIN?

Nicky says JUNE 1ST, WILL BE OUR SECOND YEAR ANNIVERSARY. SO WE'VE BEEN OPEN SINCE 2019 AND WE CAME OUT SWINGING. IT WAS AN AWESOME TIME. THINGS WERE LOOKING SO GOOD. AND CoVID HIT AND... HONESTLY, WE'RE SO SHOCKED AS WELL AS JUST SO GRATEFUL TO STILL BE HERE BECAUSE TO BE IN A SECOND YEAR OF OPENING A RESTAURANT, SOME PEOPLE DON'T MAKE IT ON REGULAR TERMS. SO FOR US TO PULL THROUGH, YOU KNOW, WITH CoVID, IT MEANS THE WORLD TO US.

Steve says JOHN, HOW ABOUT YOU? CAN YOU BE PROFITABLE WITH PATIO-ONLY SERVICE?

The caption changes to "John Sinopoli. SaveHospitality.ca."

John says IF THE SUBSIDIES REMAIN, YES. BUT BREAK-EVEN, I WOULD SAY. IT'S NOT REALLY PROFITABLE. WE'RE STAYING OPEN TO... THE FIRST RULE OF BUSINESS IS TO STAY IN BUSINESS. SO THE PATIO HELPS US STAY IN BUSINESS. BUT I'D LIKE TO REMIND EVERYBODY THAT IT IS A MINORITY OF RESTAURANTS THAT HAVE THE ABILITY TO OPEN A PATIO. CAFE T.O. ONLY EXISTS IN CERTAIN NEIGHBOURHOODS IN TORONTO. THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF RESTAURANTS THAT ARE EITHER IN THE FINANCIAL CORE, IN LARGE OFFICE BUILDINGS, IN STRIP MALLS AROUND THE SUBURBS THAT HAVE NO CAFE T.O. PROGRAM AND NO ABILITY TO OPEN A PATIO, AND THEY'RE LIKE... SHEER OUT OF LUCK FOR LACK OF A BETTER PHRASE, EXCUSE MY LANGUAGE. BECAUSE PATIOS ARE OPENING THE GOVERNMENT IS MAKING FANFARE AND THE GOVERNMENT IS EXCITED, THAT IT'S A MINORITY OF RESTAURANTS. AND SOME PEOPLE WITH 20 SEATS DON'T BREAK EVEN. BECAUSE INDOORS THEY HAVE 200 SEATS. AND THEIR RENT BY THE WAY IS NOT BEING DISCOUNTED AT THE MOMENT.

Nicky says RIGHT.

John says EVERYONE HAS TO BE VERY AWARE THAT THE OPENING OF PATIOS AND THE ABILITY TO TAKE OUT DOES NOT SOLVE THE PROBLEM. THE PROBLEM PERSISTS AS LONG AS OUR INDOOR DINING IS RESTRICTED OR FULLY CLOSED, AS IT IS NOW. AND THAT GOVERNMENTS NEED TO STOP THE RHETORIC OF IT'S TIME TO RAMP DOWN SUBSIDIES AND SUPPORTS BECAUSE THINGS ARE GETTING BACK TO NORMAL. IT'S THE FURTHEST FROM THE TRUTH IN OUR INDUSTRY. RETAIL FARES VERY WELL BECAUSE PEOPLE DON'T MIND CURBSIDE PICKUP, BUYING ONLINE. FOR US BUMS IN SEATS ARE WHERE THE DOLLARS ARE AT, FULL STOP. AND THOSE SEATS FOR THE LION'S SHARE ARE INDOORS.

Steve says I GUESS SOL IS A TECHNICAL TERM IN THE CULINARY BUSINESS?

John says YEAH. SORRY. APOLOGIES.

Steve says I THOUGHT I HEARD IT BEFORE. DON'T APOLOGIZE. I TOTALLY GET IT. DON'T APOLOGIZE. COREY, WE'VE HEARD ABOUT THIS CAFE T.O. PROGRAM SEVERAL TIMES ALREADY AND I DON'T WANT TO ASSUME THAT EVERYBODY KNOWS WHAT THAT IS. CAN YOU BRIEFLY EXPLAIN WHAT CAFE T.O. IS DESIGNED TO DO?

Corey says A YEAR AGO, AS SEVERAL PEOPLE DESCRIBED TO ME, IT WAS THE WILD WEST FOR THE RESTAURANTS IN TERMS OF... YOU KNOW, I TALKED TO OWNERS... I MEAN, BASICALLY CAFE T.O. WAS A PANDEMIC-RELATED STREETSIDE DINING PROGRAM AND IT SORT OF STREAMLINED WHAT WAS A VERY BUREAUCRATIC PROCEDURE FOR GETTING YOUR PATIO LICENCE AND BASICALLY SAYING GET IT DONE BECAUSE WE KNOW YOU NEED TO MAKE MONEY. THE ONLY WAY TO DO THAT IS BY DINING OUTSIDE. A YEAR AGO MOST RESTAURATEURS SAID JUST DO IT. THIS YEAR THEY'RE ENCOUNTERING MORE RED TAPE AND GOVERNMENT AGENCIES THAT WANT BLUEPRINTS. JUST TO JUMP ONTO WHAT BOTH JOHN AND NICKY ARE SAYING, MAYBE THEY CAN DISCUSS THEIR NUMBERS OR NOT, BUT ON THE AVERAGE, SO THE PEOPLE HAVE AN UNDERSTANDING, ON THE AVERAGE MOST RESTAURATEURS I TALK TO, THOSE THAT ARE SURVIVING ARE OPERATING OVER THE LAST YEAR AT A 75 percent REDUCTION IN REVENUE. SO WE TALK ABOUT BREAKING EVEN? THEY'RE DOWN THIS MUCH AND THEY'RE ONLY IN EXISTENCE DUE TO FOR THE MOST PART GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES. SO THE TAPERING OFF, THE TARGETING OF THAT TAPERING OFF AND THE COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ABOUT THAT TAPERING OFF HAS TO BE PART OF THE CONVERSATION, NOT JUST, CAN YOU MAKE DO WITH CERTAIN PEOPLE ON THE PATIO.

Steve says UNDERSTOOD. ALL RIGHT. NICKY, LET'S DO SOME NUMBERS ON THIS THEN. UNDER NORMAL CIRCUMSTANCES, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR PATIO SPACE SIZE AND THEN WITH CAFE T.O., HOW MUCH BIGGER DOES IT GET?

Nicky says WELL, OUR NORMAL SPACE SIZE FOR OUR PATIO WOULD BE ABOUT FOUR PEOPLE AS OPPOSED TO HAVING 25 PEOPLE.

Steve says OH, SO THAT'S HUGE.

Nicky says THAT'S HUGE. THAT IS HUGE FOR US. SO THAT'S WHY WE'RE EXCITED ABOUT, LIKE YOU WERE SAYING BEFORE, NOT EVERYBODY HAS THAT OPPORTUNITY TO BE ABLE TO DO, YOU KNOW, TO DO THAT. BUT FOR US, IT REALLY WORKS, WHICH IS WHY WE'RE SO ANXIOUS TO BE ABLE TO OPEN UP THAT. AND WE WEREN'T 100 percent SURE EVEN WHEN WE WERE GETTING INTO IT LAST YEAR WHETHER THIS IS GOING TO BE SOMETHING THAT IS TEMPORARY OR SOMETHING THAT'S GOING TO BE GOING ON. I DON'T EVEN... STILL DON'T KNOW IF IT'S TEMPORARY OR NOT. BUT WE SPENT THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS ON PATIO FURNITURE TO BE ABLE TO DO THAT. SO EVEN TO HAVE TO PUT THAT KIND OF MONEY INTO IT KNOWING... NOT KNOWING IF THIS IS GOING TO, YOU KNOW, PAY OFF, YOU KNOW, THAT WAS A RISK THAT WE HAD TO TAKE, YOU KNOW? BUT TO HAVE 25 SEATS OUT THERE, IT WAS A RISK WE DID TAKE, SO, YEAH.

Steve says INTERESTING. JOHN, CAN I GET YOUR NUMBERS AS WELL? WHAT ARE YOU NORMALLY FOR PATIO SIZE AND THEN WHAT DOES CAFE T.O. ALLOW YOU TO DO AND ANY IDEA IF IT'S PERMANENT.

John says WE HAVE FOUR VENUES, WE HAVE THREE RESTAURANTS AND A BAR. OUR SMALLEST RESTAURANT IS 38 FEET IN SIZE. NORMALLY ZERO PATIO. WITH CAFE T.O. ON A CITY BOULEVARD, LIKE COREY SAID, THEY'RE ASKING US FOR BLUEPRINTS AND ALL KINDS OF RED TAPE WE DIDN'T HAVE TO GO THROUGH LAST YEAR AND IT'S ALL UP IN THE AIR, BUT WE HAVE ABOUT 20 SEATS THERE SO WE'RE JUST ABOVE 50 percent OF OUR NORMAL CAPACITY. WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT HOW RESTAURANT BUSINESS MODELS OPERATE, RUNNING AT 50 percent CAPACITY IS NOT MAKING MONEY, RIGHT? IT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE. YOU'RE NORMALLY PAYING YOUR RENT ON FULL CAPACITY, RIGHT? SO OUR OTHER TWO LOCATIONS, RESTAURANTS, HAVE LARGER PATIOS, BUT BOTH PATIOS ARE SMALLER THAN THE ACTUAL INDOOR DINING CAPACITY. THOSE ARE LARGER RESTAURANTS OF 70 AND 110 SEATS EACH INSIDE. THEN WE HAVE A BAR, A NEIGHBOURHOOD BAR, IT HAS NO PATIO NORMALLY SO WE'RE VERY LUCKY TO HAVE 30 OR 40 SEATS ON THE STREET THIS SUMMER. BUT FOR US, CAFE T.O. HAS BEEN EXTREMELY BENEFICIAL. BUT WE ALSO HAVE THE PRIVILEGE OF BEING ABLE TO HAVE PLACES WITH RENTS IN HIGH RENT SECTIONS OF THE CITY UNLIKE A LOT OF RESTAURATEURS. SO I THINK THAT THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO STEP UP AND UNDERSTAND THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN TOEING THE LINE WITH SUBSIDIES DURING THE PANDEMIC. THEY NEED TO CONTINUE TO DO SO. THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO UNDERSTAND THERE ARE STRUCTURAL ISSUES IN OUR BUSINESS MODEL THAT CREATED CHALLENGES BEFORE THE PANDEMIC AND HAVE REALLY, REALLY UNRAVELED OUR BUSINESS MODEL WITH REDUCED VOLUMES DUE TO RESTRICTIONS. AND THE NUMBER ONE THING FOR US IS THE WHOLESALE PRICING OF ALCOHOL AND THE INABILITY FOR US TO PAY BELOW RETAIL PRICES ON ALCOHOL. SO OUR NUMBER ONE ASK OF THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT, STEVE, IS THAT THEY VERY QUICKLY INSTITUTE A ONE-YEAR TEMPORARY REDUCTION IN WHOLESALE... SORRY, REDUCTION IN LCBO LICENSING MARKUP BY 20 percent WHILE WE CAN REVISIT THE ENTIRE STRUCTURE OF THE LCBO PURCHASING SYSTEM FOR RESTAURANT LICENSEES. WE'RE THE ONLY JURISDICTION IN THE WESTERN WORLD THAT RESTAURANT LICENSEES, OR ANYONE WHO PURCHASES ALCOHOL FOR RESALE, WHETHER YOU'RE AN EVENT VENUE OR CONCERT VENUE, WHATEVER, PAYS MORE THAN THE CONSUMING PUBLIC FOR THAT ALCOHOL. CONSIDERING THE VOLUMES. WE SPENT IN 2019 577 MILLION dollars IN ALCOHOL AND WE GOT A ZERO PERCENT DISCOUNT. SO THAT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE TO ME IN THE MODERN WORLD, IN ECONOMICS. WE NEED A CHANGE. THAT'S THE NUMBER ONE THING THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT CAN DO TO IMPROVE OUR BUSINESS MODEL, CREATE A STRUCTURAL CHANGE FOR SUCCESS FOR OUR INDUSTRY.

Steve says YOU PUT THAT ASK IN. ANY INDICATION WHEN THEY'RE GOING TO GET BACK TO YOU ON THAT?

John says WE'RE IN DISCUSSIONS. YOU KNOW, WE'VE GOT A COUPLE MEETINGS UPCOMING. WE GOT A LOT OF INDICATIONS IT WAS GOING TO BE IN THE PREVIOUS BUDGET IN FEBRUARY. IT WASN'T THERE. WE WERE EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED. IT MAY HAVE BEEN BECAUSE OF THE CHANGE IN FINANCE MINISTERS AND NEW STAFF AND OFFICE COMING IN. THAT WAS NOT GOOD FOR OUR ADVOCACY. HOWEVER, YOU KNOW, WE'RE OPTIMISTIC THAT THEY UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS A SERIOUS PROBLEM. YOU KNOW, B.C. DID IT. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT AN NDP SOCIALIST GOVERNMENT DID SOMETHING FOR SMALL BUSINESS THAT OUR PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT, WHO IS SUPPOSEDLY PRO-SMALL BUSINESS, PRO-BUSINESS IN GENERAL, AND ANTITAX CAN'T SEEM TO MUSTER THE COURAGE TO DO, AND WE DON'T GET IT. B.C. PUT IN A PERMANENT 20 percent REDUCTION ON ALCOHOL PURCHASES FOR THEIR HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY. WE NEED THE SAME HERE. IT ALREADY EXISTS IN ALBERTA. IT EXISTS TO SOME EXTENT IN QUEBEC. IT NEWLY EXISTS IN P.E.I. AND NEW BRUNSWICK. THESE ARE PLACES THAT ARE COMPETITIVE JURISDICTIONS FOR US. WE DON'T HAVE ANY ADVANTAGE WHATSOEVER NOW. ALCOHOL PURCHASES FOR THE MOST PART FOR SIT-DOWN RESTAURANTS REPRESENT ANYWHERE FROM 40 percent OF YOUR ENTIRE PRODUCT PURCHASES, AND IF WE COULD GET THAT DISCOUNT, IT JUST PUTS MONEY RIGHT TO OUR BOTTOM LINE. AND WE'RE GOING TO SHOW THE GOVERNMENT, WE'RE GOING TO PRODUCE THAT REVENUE BACK IN VOLUME OVER THE YEARS WITHOUT ISSUE. AND JUST THE JOBS IT SAVES. THE TAXES THAT ARE GOING TO GO BACK INTO THE PROVINCIAL COFFERS WITH THIS ONE MOVE ARE WAY MORE THAN THE DISCOUNT IT WOULD ACTUALLY GIVE US. WE'RE GOING TO PRODUCE MORE SALES TAX, MORE HST, MORE PAYROLL TAX, MORE INCOME TAX FROM THE PEOPLE BEING EMPLOYED. AND THE NEW OUTDOOR RETAIL MODEL GIVES AN OPPORTUNITY FOR SMALL COMMUNITIES WHO ARE NOT SERVICED BY LCBOs AROUND THE PROVINCE BECAUSE THE LCBO SYSTEM IS VERY LIMITED FOR PEOPLE UNLESS YOU'RE IN A MAJOR URBAN CENTRE, IT ALLOWS THEM TO PURCHASE ALCOHOL FOR A REASONABLE PRICE AND FEEDS THEIR LOCAL ECONOMY IN THEIR OWN TOWN.

Steve says LET ME CIRCLE ABOUT A BEING TO COREY AND JUST SEE IF WE CAN PUT TO BED THIS ISSUE OF CAFE T.O. AND WHETHER COREY, YOU'VE HEARD, AS TO WHETHER IT WILL BECOME A PERMANENT FEATURE OF THE CAPITAL CITY OF ONTARIO. DO YOU LIKE THE IDEA? IS IT WORKING?

Corey says YEAH, I THINK EXPANDING AND MAKING THE CAFE LEGISLATION A BIT LOOSER AND FLEXIBLE SOUNDS GOOD. IT DOESN'T COME WITHOUT COMPLICATIONS. RESTAURANTS HAVE NEIGHBOURS. AND IT'S FINE TO SAY DURING A PANDEMIC, LET'S IGNORE THE RULES. BUT ON A PERMANENT BASIS, IT PROBABLY INCURS MORE PROBLEMS THAN WE'RE CONSIDERING RIGHT NOW VERSUS WHAT JOHN AND HIS HOSPITALITY GROUP IS PROPOSING, YOU KNOW, A LOWERING... WHOLESALE PRICING ON ALCOHOL. THAT'S A BENEFIT FOR EVERYBODY ACROSS THE BOARD. I THINK THAT MAKES MORE SENSE IN TERMS OF WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR THE INDUSTRY THAN THE PATIO SITUATION.

Steve says GOTCHA. I GUESS IT WAS JOHN WHO SAID EARLIER IN THE PROGRAM THAT THE MAIN GOAL OF BUSINESS IS TO STAY IN BUSINESS. NICKY, I WANT TO START WITH YOU ON THIS ONE. LAST YEAR, I MEAN, YOU'VE TALKED ABOUT IT ALREADY, HOW BRUTAL IT WAS. YOU BARELY GOT THE DOORS OPEN ON YOUR RESTAURANT WHEN YOU HAD TO SHUT DOWN BECAUSE OF CoVID-19.

Nicky says RIGHT.

Steve says WAS THERE A MOMENT OVER THE PAST 15 MONTHS OR SO WHEN YOU THOUGHT, "WE'RE NOT GOING TO MAKE IT"?

Nicky says THERE WERE MANY MOMENTS OF THAT. MY SISTERS AND I ARE, FROM THE TIME WE HEARD ABOUT CoVID, WE SCRAMBLED TO BASICALLY GO AND GET DELIVERY SERVICES AND WHATNOT, WHICH WE DIDN'T HAVE BEFORE. AND THAT WASN'T WORKING. IT JUST WASN'T WORKING. WE DIDN'T REALLY GET TO ADVERTISE THAT WE WERE ON THESE DEVICES OR THESE NEW DELIVERY SERVICES, SO WE LITERALLY ENDED UP CLOSING FOR TWO MONTHS. AND FOR THOSE TWO MONTHS, WE WERE GLUED TO THE TELEVISION WAITING FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO SAY SOMETHING. WE HAD NO IDEA. LITERALLY, WE HAD SOME VERY, VERY SCARY, YOU KNOW, CONVERSATIONS ON THE PHONE, TEARS, LOTS OF TEARS. YOU KNOW, WE JUST OPENED. SO IT WAS VERY, VERY SCARY. BUT WE DID REOPEN AND ONCE WE WERE ABLE TO GET THE WORD OUT THERE THAT WE WERE ON THESE NEW DELIVERY SERVICES AND WE'RE OPEN FOR TAKEOUT, PEOPLE LITERALLY CAME RUNNING IN AND OUR CUSTOMERS HAVE BEEN SUPER SUPPORTIVE, SUPER SUPPORTIVE.

Steve says AND HOW MANY SISTERS ARE YOU THAT OWN THE BUSINESS?

Nicky says THREE OF US. I HAVE SEVEN SISTERS BUT THREE OF US ARE THERE RUNNING SugarKane RIGHT NOW.

Steve says EVEN IF THERE'S ONLY THREE OF YOU, WE DO KNOW HOW SISTERS CAN BE.

Nicky says YES.

Steve says HAS IT BEEN SORT OF UNANIMOUS ALL THE WAY THROUGH THAT YOU WERE GOING TO STAY IN BUSINESS OR MIGHT THERE HAVE BEEN ONE OR TWO SISTERS WHO THOUGHT, YOU KNOW WHAT? WE PUT ENOUGH MONEY INTO THIS ALREADY AND THAT'S ENOUGH?

Nicky says HONESTLY, WE HAVE BEEN... IT'S VERY HARD... IT WAS VERY HARD TO BELIEVE, A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE LIKE, HOW DO YOU EVEN WORK... WE'VE BEEN WORKING TOGETHER FOR OVER TEN YEARS NOW, AND WE HAVE BEEN UNANIMOUS ON PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING GOING, YOU KNOW, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO SugarKane. BUT WE WERE ALL... WE WERE DEFINITELY UNANIMOUS IN WANTING TO FIGHT, STAY IN HERE, STAY AND FIGHT FOR SugarKane, YEAH. IT'S OUR BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS, MAN. IT'S LIKE, YOU CAN'T GIVE UP.

Steve says GOOD FOR YOU. WE SHOULD GIVE YOU THE CHANCE TO SAY THE ADDRESS OF THE PLACE SO IF PEOPLE WANT TO COME, THEY CAN.

Nicky says 699 DANFORTH AVE. WE'RE IN THE HEART OF GREEKTOWN. AND THE GREEK COMMUNITY AND EVERYBODY ON THE DANFORTH HAS EMBRACED US SO LOVINGLY AND WE WOULDN'T WANT TO BE ANYWHERE ELSE. DANFORTH AND PAPE.

Steve says JOHN, DID YOU COME CLOSE TO HAVING TO SHUT DOWN ANY OF YOUR RESTAURANTS THIS YEAR?

John says NO. YOU KNOW, WE'RE FORTUNATE, WE'VE BEEN AROUND FOR 15 YEARS AS A COMPANY AND WE WERE IN A GROWTH PATTERN, LIKE NICKY, WE OPENED OUR LARGEST-EVER RESTAURANT AT SIGNIFICANT COST AT KING STREET WEST NINE MONTHS BEFORE THE PANDEMIC HIT. WE WERE ABOUT TO TURN THE CORNER, PROFITABILITY AND GAINING MOMENTUM GOING INTO THE SUMMER AND THE RUG GOT PULLED OUT FROM UNDERNEATH OUR FEET LIKE THOUSANDS OF RESTAURATEURS. I HEAR NICKY'S STORY, AND IF THERE IS A REASON THAT THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD UNDERSTAND THAT THE RESTAURANT INDUSTRY IS WORTH INVESTING IN, IT'S NICKY'S STORY AND THERE'S THOUSANDS OF STORIES LIKE THAT. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT PEOPLE WHO PUT THEIR HEART AND SOUL AND THEY WON'T GIVE UP. THEY'RE THERE FOR THEIR EMPLOYEES AND FOR THEIR BUSINESS. I MEAN, THERE'S A LOT OF BEAN COUNTERS OUT THERE WHO OPEN BUSINESSES WHO WOULD HAVE SHUT HALF OF OUR PLACES DOWN IN A HEARTBEAT. IN FACT THOUSANDS OF RESTAURATEURS ARE OPERATING IN VIRTUAL BANKRUPTCY AT THE MOMENT, YET THEY WON'T GIVE UP. SO IT SHOCKS ME THAT OUR FEDERAL AND PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENTS DON'T UNDERSTAND THAT A SECTOR-SPECIFIC SUPPORT PROGRAM IS NECESSARY GIVEN ALL THE VULNERABILITIES OF OUR INDUSTRY, AND GIVEN THE HEART AND SOUL THAT THIS INDUSTRY HAS SHOWN THROUGHOUT THIS PANDEMIC TO POWER THROUGH AND TO DO THE RIGHT THING FOR THEIR EMPLOYEES, FOR THEIR CUSTOMERS. I MEAN, IT JUST SHOWS, WE CREATE COMMUNITY. FULL STOP. MORE THAN HARDLY ANY OTHER BUSINESS, WE CREATE COMMUNITY. AND PLACES LIKE NICKY'S AND OURS IN THE EAST END AND THE WEST END, JUST SHOW THAT. AND WE REALLY WISH THE GOVERNMENT WOULD TAKE NOTICE AND NOT TREAT US LIKE EVERY OTHER SMALL BUSINESS UNDER A HUGE UMBRELLA ACROSS THE NATION.

Nicky says EXACTLY.

Steve says DO YOU HAVE ANY, JOHN, RELIABLE DATA WHICH WOULD INDICATE HOW MANY RESTAURANTS IN FACT DID NOT MAKE IT TO THE FINISH LINE AND HAVE GONE OUT OF BUSINESS?

John says SO, UNFORTUNATELY, NO. THAT IS TOUGH BECAUSE WHEN YOU'RE IN LOCKDOWN, YOU KIND OF DON'T KNOW WHETHER PEOPLE ARE OPEN OR CLOSED. THEY MAY HAVE DECIDED TO CLOSE AND THERE'S NO ANNOUNCEMENT BECAUSE THERE'S NO PAPER ON THE WINDOWS YET OR THERE'S NO VACANCY SIGN BECAUSE IT WOULDN'T MAKE SENSE FOR THE LANDLORD TO TRY TO RENT THE SPACE IN THE MIDDLE OF A SHUTDOWN. THE LAST WE HEARD WAS 10 percent. BUT THAT WAS MORE THAN A YEAR AGO. AND WE KNOW THAT THOSE NUMBERS HAVE INCREASED. MY ANECDOTAL GUESS IS WE'RE APPROACHING 20 percent OF SHUTDOWN PRE-PANDEMIC. AGAIN, WE'VE GOT MANY, MANY THOUSANDS OF BUSINESSES CURRENTLY OPERATING IN VIRTUAL BANKRUPTCY. LIKE, THEY'RE LEVERAGED TO THE HILT. THEY DON'T HAVE ANY CASH FLOW. THEY'RE JUST SAYING, WE'RE GOING TO TRY AND OPEN AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS. BUT I THINK AS THE SUBSIDIES GET DIMINISHED AND SLOWLY GO AWAY, THAT THE REALITY WILL SET IN AND A LOT OF PLACES ARE GOING TO BE, YOU KNOW, IN VERY, VERY HARD TIMES. ON THE BRINK.

Steve says RIGHT, ON THE BRINK. COREY, I WANT, YOU KNOW, YOU'VE GOT A SORT OF SECTOR-WIDE KNOWLEDGE OF HOW THIS IS GOING TO WORK GOING FORWARD. SO LET ME PUT THIS NUMBER TO YOU THERE. THE MAIN LABOUR FORCE SURVEY FROM STATS CANADA APPARENTLY SHOWS THAT FOOD SERVICES ARE STILL, OF COURSE, AMONG THE HARDEST HIT INDUSTRIES FOR JOB LOSSES. APPARENTLY TWO-THIRDS OF JOBS STILL MISSING FROM PRE-CoVID TIMES ARE IN FOOD SERVICES AND ACCOMMODATION. SO THIS IS A SECTOR OF OUR ECONOMY THAT HAS REALLY DISPROPORTIONATELY TAKEN A HIT AND STILL DOES. NOW, ADMITTEDLY, FRIDAY WAS STAGE ONE REOPENING. THEY'RE GOING TO BE ABLE TO RECLAIM SOME OF THAT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. BUT IN YOUR VIEW AS YOU LOOK ACROSS THE WHOLE SECTOR, WHAT'S GOING TO HAVE TO HAPPEN IN ORDER FOR THINGS TO GET BACK TO MUCH MORE PRE-PANDEMIC NORMAL?

Corey says WELL, THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS PRE-PANDEMIC NORMAL WITHOUT DR. JIM'S TIME MACHINE BECAUSE YOU CAN'T GO BACK TO 2019. BUT, YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT HOSPITALITY, LET'S INCLUDE TOURISM IN THE SORT OF ECONOMIC SECTORS THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DOESN'T REALLY UNDERSTAND. I SPOKE WITH A FEW ECONOMISTS WHO SAID, WHEN THEY WERE IN SCHOOL, THEY NEVER HEARD THE WORD RESTAURANT OR HOSPITALITY. IT JUST WAS A HUGE BLIND SPOT BECAUSE IN THEIR EDUCATION AND THEN THE GOVERNMENTS THAT THEY ADVICE, THEY REALLY FOCUS ON ENERGY EXTRACTION AND, YOU KNOW, TRADE AND MANUFACTURING. SO I THINK THERE'S A BIG BLIND SPOT AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL. I KNOW JOHN HAS BEEN TALKING ABOUT THE IDEA OF A DEPARTMENT OF HOSPITALITY, SOME LEVEL OF REPRESENTATION FROM THE GOVERNMENT IN UNDERSTANDING A SECTOR THAT EMPLOYS 1.2 MILLION CANADIANS, OR DID IN 2019, AND GENERATES 5 percent OF CANADA'S GDP. THAT SEEMS WORTH AN OFFICE AND MAYBE A COUPLE STAFF MEMBERS AND A PRINTER. I DON'T THINK WE CAN GO BACK TO THE WAY THINGS WERE BEFORE, BUT ON THE GOVERNMENT END, THERE CAN BE A DEVOTION TO WHAT IS A BIG PART OF OUR ECONOMY. AND ON THE CONSUMERS' END, THERE CAN BE A CHANGING ATTITUDE TO THE RELATIONSHIP THAT WE HAVE WITH RESTAURANTS. I DON'T WANT TO HIJACK THIS CONVERSATION AND TAKE UP TOO MUCH OF YOUR TIME, BUT THERE'S AN OPPORTUNITY FOR US TO RE-EVALUATE HOW WE INTERACT WITH RESTAURANTS AND IT STARTS THIS FRIDAY. GO AND EAT ON A PATIO. BE COOL WHEN YOU'RE INTERACTING WITH STAFF.

Steve says I THINK WHAT... YOU DID GIVE US A HINT THERE ABOUT WHAT YOUR NEXT BOOK IS GOING TO BE ABOUT. SO AS LONG AS WE'RE ON THE TOPIC, YOU DO HAVE A BOOK COMING OUT THIS FALL CALLED "THE NEXT SUPPER: THE END OF RESTAURANTS AS WE KNEW THEM." WE'LL HAVE TO HAVE YOU BACK IN THE FALL TO TALK MORE SPECIFICALLY ABOUT THE BOOK. YOU CERTAINLY IN YOUR LAST ANSWER HINTED AT A VERY DIFFERENT FUTURE FOR THIS BUSINESS. BUT I PRESUME, AND, COREY, CORRECT ME IF I'M WRONG ON THIS, I PRESUME THAT THE BEST THING THAT ALL THE REST OF US CAN DO NORDS TO HELP THE RESTAURANT SECTOR IS GET VACCINATED, AS MANY OF US AS POSSIBLE, SO WE CAN GET BACK TO GOING OUT IN THE EVENINGS; IS THAT FAIR?

Corey says THAT'S THE BEST THING ALL OF US CAN DO FOR EVERYONE IN EVERY SECTOR, FOR EDUCATION AND TRANSPORTATION AND RETAIL AND RESTAURANTS... YES, WE SHOULD ALL GO OUT AND GET VACCINATED. CERTAINLY IF WE'RE GOING TO GO BACK TO A RESTAURANT, YES, WE SHOULD BE VACCINATED.

Steve says NICKY, WE'RE DOWN TO OUR LAST MINUTE AND CHANGE HERE. WE'VE TALKED ABOUT THE HELP ON LCBO THAT YOU WOULD LIKE, WE KNOW THE WAGE SUPPORT IS VERY HELPFUL, THE RENT SUPPORT PRESUMABLY, YOU WOULD LOVE TO SEE MORE OF THAT. IF THERE IS I GUESS WHAT THEY CALL SECTOR-SPECIFIC ECONOMIC RELIEF PACKAGES STILL TO COME, WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE IN IT?

Nicky says OH, BOY. MORE OF THE RENT, YEAH, COVERING THE RENT, THE SUBSIDY FOR THE RENT. A LITTLE BIT MORE. I THINK AT THE BEGINNING OF LAST YEAR, THEY WERE COVERING... I'M NOT 100 PERCENT SURE, BUT I THINK IT WAS LIKE 60 TO 70 PERCENT OR SOMETHING ALONG THOSE LINES, ESPECIALLY THE... WITH THE WAGE SUBSIDY, SO MAYBE GOING BACK TO SOMETHING A LITTLE CLOSER TO THAT WOULD VERY MUCH HELP. AND TO ALSO FOLLOW THROUGH ON THE GRANTS THAT THEY OFFERED SOME OF THESE BUSINESSES. WE'RE STILL WAITING. IT'S BEEN SINCE JANUARY. WE HAVEN'T SEEN A PENNY.

Steve says JOHN, DO YOU WANT TO TAKE THE LAST 30 SECONDS? A SECTOR-SPECIFIC ECONOMIC PACKAGE INCLUDES WHAT?

John says YEAH. WELL, IT INCLUDES GOING... AS NICKY SAID, GOING BACK TO THE ORIGINAL CALCULATOR FOR WAGE EARNER SUBSIDIES THAT EXISTED LAST FALL. GOVERNMENT QUIETLY CHANGED THOUGH CALCULATORS. IF YOU WERE DOWN 75 percent, YOU GOT 65 percent. NOW IF YOU'RE DOWN 75 percent, YOU ONLY GET 55 percent, 40 percent, WHICH IS INSANE GIVEN WHAT WAS HAPPENING OVER THE WINTER. BUT JUST FOR SOME HARD NUMBERS, STEVE, TO FINISH, IN TERMS OF SECTOR-SPECIFIC. ONTARIO ALONE IS DOWN STILL 111,500 HOSPITALITY JOBS. NOW, IF THAT WAS THE CASE IN THE MANUFACTURING OR THE AUTOMOTIVE OR THE AIRLINE SECTOR, THIS GOVERNMENT WOULD BE JUMPING THROUGH HOOPS TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO GET THESE JOBS BACK. BUT BECAUSE IT'S THE HOSPITALITY AND RESTAURANT SECTOR, WHICH IS, AS COREY SAID, THESE THINGS HAVE BEEN IGNORED BY GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS FOR 30, 40 YEARS AS GOVERNMENT QUADRUPLED IN SIZE. NOTHING IS DONE. HARD, HARD NUMBERS. WE'RE 360,000 JOBS ACROSS THE COUNTRY DOWN. THAT'S THE SIZE OF LONDON, ONTARIO. DOWN. NO ONE HAS GOT JOBS BACK. AND AS WE REOPEN, WHO KNOWS HOW MANY OF THOSE ARE COMING BACK GIVEN THE RESTRICTIONS AND THE SHRINKING OF THE SECTOR? GOVERNMENTS NEED TO STAND UP AND UNDERSTAND THEY NEED AT LEAST A DEPARTMENT BUT PERHAPS A MINISTRY OF HOSPITALITY, TOURISM AND RESTAURANTS TO MANAGE THIS MASSIVE PART OF OUR ECONOMY THAT REPRESENTS 4 TO 5 percent OF THE GDP AND 8 TO 9 percent OF THE ENTIRE COUNTRY'S WORKFORCE.

Steve says INTERESTING. I GUESS THE PROBLEM WITH YOU GUYS, JOHN, IS YOU'RE NOT A BIG THREE LIKE THE AUTOMAKERS. YOU'RE A BIG 300 OR 400,000. THAT'S THE PROBLEM...

John says EXACTLY. WE DON'T HAVE 10 CEOs, WE HAVE 90,000 CEOs. THAT'S THE PROBLEM. AND WE'RE A VERY DIVERSE, DISPARATE GROUP THAT'S HARD TO CREATE ONE VOICE. BUT THAT SHOULDN'T BE A REASON FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO IGNORE IT. IT MAKES IT EASIER FOR THEM TO IGNORE US POLITICALLY. WE NEED TO GET TOGETHER AND FIGURE OUT HOW TO CREATE THAT POLITICAL LEVERAGE AND CREATE A VOICE AND A MOVEMENT IN A UNIFIED ASK SO THEY UNDERSTAND THE IMPACT THAT IT WILL HAVE. I MEAN, LIKE I SAID BEFORE, WHAT OTHER BETTER PEOPLE TO INVEST IN? MOST RESTAURANT OWNERS ARE NEW IMMIGRANTS, NEW TO THE COUNTRY, RACIALIZED, YOU KNOW, SEXUALIZED. LIKE, THEY'RE ALL THE PEOPLE THAT NEED THE HELP THE MOST. AND THIS IS WHO THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE INVESTING IN.

The caption changes to "Producer: Cara Stern, @carastern."

Steve says JOHN SINOPOLI, COREY MINTZ, NICKY CHARLES, REALLY GOOD OF ALL OF YOU TO JOIN US ON TVO TONIGHT. GOOD LUCK TO ONE AND ALL.

Nicky says THANK YOU.

Corey says THANKS, STEVE.

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