Flowers, small kitchen tools and handwritten cards: Fine dining does takeout during COVID lockdown

Flowers, small kitchen tools and handwritten cards: Fine dining does takeout during COVID lockdown

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With a number of fine dining establishments in the city, Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality Inc. decided to pilot several takeout and delivery models at its Canoe, Auberge du Pommier and Maison Selby locations to see which would make the most sense.

“All three play a role in our portfolio, all three are geographically different, which makes a huge difference in how we attack takeout,” said executive chef John Horne.

People might say this is nice, but it’s not a real Barberian’s experience

They temporarily moved Canoe to the Auberge location to execute a coordinated takeout program, combining a few members from each team. Together, they developed multiple tasting menus for pickup only.

“We had lots of discussions and decided a tasting menu was the best way to represent both restaurants,” Horne said.

Maison Selby was better suited to a takeout and delivery model given its younger demographic base in the Bloor/Sherbourne area. Canoe has since returned to its original location, where it produces chef meal kits for delivery.

In order to replicate the high-end dining experience, the Oliver & Bonacini teams put a lot of thought into presentation, from the compostable takeout containers, to added touches such as flowers, small kitchen tools and handwritten cards.

“With everyone in lockdown we wanted people to feel special again,” Horne said.

The second-wave closure, which began in November, has been harder than the first for everyone, he said. Adding to the challenge is that the takeout and delivery market has become more competitive than ever as more restaurants enter the fray.

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