Saint John restaurant serves up recipes during coronavirus closure

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WATCH: Restaurants in New Brunswick have adapted to takeout and delivery models amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but others have found unique ways to give their regulars a taste of what they have to offer. Travis Fortnum reports. – Mar 31, 2020

Patrons of a popular Saint John restaurant have a way to sample the specials from home — some assembly required.

Italian by Night, which has been serving customers in the city’s uptown for eight years, has started posting some of their recipes online while closed due to COVID-19.

“I have a lot of guests that will come up to the pass and ask ‘can I have the recipe?’ and I always say no,” says co-owner and chef Michelle Hooton.

“So I thought this would be a really fun thing to do!”

‘Italian by Night’ closed it’s doors on March 17, two days later the government mandated all dine-in restaurants close. Travis Fortnum / Global News

New Brunswick declared a state of emergency on March 19, when it was mandated that dining rooms be closed.

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Unlike some other eateries, Italian by Night does not offer takeout or delivery.

“It didn’t make sense to try to remake our whole model,” says Hooton.

It’s an experiencve they can still have, with the added benefit of keeping themselves busy while in isolation.

“It’s also really great for me,” Hooton says, “because I feel like I’m connected to the world.”

READ MORE: Canadian restaurant chain starts selling groceries amid coronavirus shutdown

No stranger to publishing a recipe, Hooton runs her own cooking blog — but the Italian by Night recipes are going up on the restaurant’s Facebook, starting with their signature marinara.

“It’s really the backbone of the Italian by Night menu,” Hooton says.

“It was like, kaboom! People loved it.”

Michelle posted a recipe for their signature marinara on March 19. Facebook: Italian by Night

Food expert Sylvain Charlebois says this is a time when many who might normally dine out are firing up the oven.

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“They’re getting reacquainted with their kitchen,” he says, “they’re spending more time in the kitchen – and to get them out of the kitchen is probably going to be a little bit difficult after two or three months of this.”

We don’t know how long the coronavirus pandemic will keep consumers out of restaurants, but we do know the situation is impacting the game.

Charlebois says most have adapted to take out and online orders, others are closing for good.

“For whoever’s left, I would say that it’s going to be very different,” he says.

‘Italian by Night’ has operated in Saint John since 2012, moving to their Germaine Street location in 2016. Travis Fortnum / Global News

Charlebois also anticipates a treat on the menu when diners do return to eateries – lower prices.

“We are expecting a bit of a price war,” he says, “restaurants wanting people back in their dining rooms as much as possible, so that’s going to be a bit of a break for consumers.”

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Hooton doesn’t want to overthink the unknowns around reopening.

“I can’t think about it,” she says.

“I’m not going to think about it. All we’re going to do is reopen, do what we do and in time things will go back to normal.”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.


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