On April 30th 2020, RPTV took a walking tour of the Regent Park neighborhood to view the impact Covid has had on the surrounding business. What they encountered was numerous notices up on business windows noting the temporary closure due to Covid-19. Restaurants have been particularly impact by Covid-19 with a report by Canadian Chamber of Commerce suggesting that more than 60% of restaurant Canada wide could be closed by November.
Our reporter had the opportunity to sit down with the manager of one of the restaurants in the Regent Park area. Gushi Japanese Street Food, located on the corner of Gerrard St. East and Parliament, is relatively new to the neighborhood, celebrating their one year anniversary in April. Manager of Gushi, Shinji Yamaguchi, shared his thoughts on operating a restaurant during a pandemic.
In anticipating the arrival of Covid-19 to Canada, one of the first things Yamaguchi did, even prior to the Ontario government’s announcement that all restaurants would be forced to close its dinning service to the public, was research about Covid-19 not just his safety but for the safety of his staff and customers. The results of that research was a carefully laid out plan to still be able to deliver food as safely as possible. Yamaguchi focused on minimalizing contact between his workers, and the take out customers and the food delivery services (e.g. Uber Eats) by putting up clear plastic screen to divide the kitchen and check out area with the rest of the restaurant. Yamaguchi also made sure to require all employees to wear masks and focused on ensuring proper hand washing and sanitizer use. In addition, he made sure that the Gushi restaurant was properly cleaned with bleach spray and changed the layout of the restaurant to ensure maximum distancing, and as the months went on and in person dining was prohibited Gushi was able to remain open and provide food through delivery and take out. Despite the hardship faced, Gushi was one of the lucky businesses that were still able to operate through out Covid and that’s all due to the loyal costumers in the surrounding neighborhood. As Yamaguchi explains he feels grateful for his customers, “ we are lucky the community in the neighborhood are really supportive…its been almost everyday that I see the same face”.
Like many of us Yamauchi doesn’t know how long this Pandemic will last, however he already has his mind set to how his restaurant can adept and continue to provide service safely. One of his hopes for the future is to turn the front facing window of Gushi into a sliding glass window so that customers will be able to order from the street instead of inside the store, allowing for an increase in safety for both his employees, and his customers. But ultimately his hope is for the safety of everyone around the world, and his fellow restaurateurs will be able to survive the unsteady economy of Covid-19.
Watch interview here:
By Adaku Huggins-Warner
Adaku is a volunteer Journalist with the FOCUS Media Arts Centre