Nestled among West Queen West’s eclectic mix of retail, dining and boutique fitness clubs in Toronto is a taste of Ethiopian fare.
Nunu and Bu’na are a labour of love for Chris Rampen and his wife, for whom the first establishment is named.
They operate both businesses and have watched as the landscape along the usually bustling stretch has changed.
“It’s an interesting experiment we’ve done,” Chris says, reflecting on the past several months.
The COVID-19 crisis has left them saddled with uncertainty about the future.
Restaurants have seen pandemic restrictions ramped up and scaled back, only to see them ratcheted up again.
On Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford challenged food delivery apps to cut charges, naming Uber Eats in his plea.
Rampen says commissions charged by food delivery services are too costly, so he and his wife opted not to use them. Instead, they offer their customers a takeout option.
They have also been making use of their roadside patio, part of the CafeTO initiative to give eateries a much needed boost.
“To make Uber Eats and Door Dash, and these kind of things work, you’re going to have to slash what their take is, because frankly, it’s not viable,” he said. “You’re losing money on each plate that you send out the door.”
Industry associations have been keeping a close eye on the situation, noting some commissions as high as 30 per cent.
While James Rilett applauds helpful measures, he says for some, it is too late.
“That’s just helping them with fixed costs. They’re not making any revenue, so they can’t pay back any of the debt that they’ve accumulated,” said Rilett, vice president, Central Canada.
Restaurants Canada estimates that without continued and additional support, roughly 40 per cent of independent eateries might not make it beyond next March.