Cup of Jo’s & Restaurants in the Pandemic


Jo-Ann Houle is the owner and operator of Cup of Jo’s on Main Street in the centre of Winchester. She prides herself on her Made-to-Order wholesome food. Her menu features coffees, sandwiches & wraps, desserts, soups, breakfasts, eggs & omelets, and crepes. She makes cakes and appetizers, caters lunches and parties, and welcomed people into her darling stone house. She closed her doors to eat-in customers because the layout and size of the building would allow only three tables. Maybe.

Small business owners are ever-creative. Jo-Ann shifted her business to Family Meal Kits. Unlike some meal kits where your 18 year old could polish off all four portions as an appetizer, Jo’s Family Meal Kits offer substantial meals. You get all the ingredients, and a recipe, delivered to your door. Ordering is online, and delivery is contact-free.

Jo-Ann is offering a Christmas Morning Breakfast Kit. You can also order a Breakfast Kit for the Community Foodshare. She has Holiday Deserts and Pies, and Christmas Baskets. Everything is ordered online.

Catering is a totally different beast in a pandemic! Think back to office parties, or lunches, or school gatherings. The ubiquitous cookie tray at Christmas, holidays, or work gatherings, doesn’t look the same during Covid-19. Everything must be wrapped separately, and it must remain individualised. In other words, it’s not enough just to wrap up each item on the tray; each person’s food must be separate. A caterer needs to know what individual people want, and package it accordingly. It’s possible, but it adds a great deal of time, organization, and ultimately cost. The price of your cookie tray just exploded exponentially.

Restaurants Canada, formerly Canadian Restaurant Association founded in 1944, maintains the same purpose now as it did then: to help foodservice businesses grow and prosper. It held a virtual press conference on December 8th, calling for a “coordinated national action to support the hardest hit sector,” namely, restaurants. They maintain that currently 80% of restaurants are loosing money, or just barely making it. 65% are operating at a loss. 19% are just breaking even.

In the next six months, 48% of single-unit restaurateurs say they will close permanently unless something changes drastically. That is almost half of all restaurants owned by families, or individuals, that hold our towns together. The big chains, although suffering, are experiencing things a bit differently. The saying goes lately that: We may all be in the same storm, but we’re not all in the same boat!

Restaurants cannot hang on to inventory, or return it to a supplier. You cannot leave a head of lettuce on the shelf until next season, or return the eggs to the supplier. Restaurants operate on an extremely small margin at the best of times. According to Restaurants Canada, the average restaurant only keeps 50 cents on every 10 dollars spent on a restaurant meal.

Many small businesses are not eligible for any federal pandemic relief. Most small business relief is intended for businesses employing from 15 people to 50. Many owners of small businesses don’t draw a salary per-se, and therefore were not eligible for CERB when their doors were shut.

When you are shopping this holiday, please remember the small businesses. Your custom makes a huge difference. Maybe ask yourself if the person you are buying for would appreciate a gift from a big box store, or a local merchant. Furthermore, remember, if you cannot support a local business financially, you can still help them: Like, share, and comment on their social media posts; tell friends and family about them; tag a friend who might enjoy their products; sign up for their newsletters, leave a review; and when you can, buy from them for yourself or as a gift.

Cup of Jo’s and Community Foodshare are teaming up to try to help make sure that everyone’s Christmas morning is special. You can order a Christmas Morning Breakfast Box on Cup of Jo’s website, and they will deliver it to Community Foodshare for distribution to their clients. A Christmas Morning Breakfast Box includes: a dozen eggs, 6 muffins, 1 loaf of bread, homefries, 12 pieces of each peameal bacon, bacon, & sausage, and
jam packets. To order


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