Late 2021 saw the number of restaurant reservations and take-out orders in B.C. soar like there’d never been a pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)

Late 2021 saw the number of restaurant reservations and take-out orders in B.C. soar like there’d never been a pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)

British Columbians were back to restaurants in pre-pandemic numbers in late 2021

Survey finds Labour Day weekend busier than 2019, giving operators optimism for 2022

Despite the pandemic persisting like a lingering dinner guest, British Columbians have relieved its effect on restaurants and take-out venues in a spectacular way.

According to data from online restaurant reservation service OpenTable, fall and winter 2021 saw the number of seated dinners in B.C. restaurants close to and occasionally surpassing levels from before the pandemic. Likewise, last Labour Day weekend saw seated diners from online, phone and walk-in reservations spike almost 20 per cent higher than the same weekend in 2019.

Entering the New Year, a majority of restaurant owners (70 per cent) surveyed said they were optimistic for continued demand. A third of British Columbians surveyed justified that hope, saying they intended to dine out more often than prior to the pandemic. Over half of those people (60 per cent) said they specifically intended to do so in support of local businesses.

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Although the arrival of Omicron could make home cooks out of more B.C. residents, their new year resolutions could be another blessing for restaurant owners; 61 per cent said they would eat healthier in 2022, while 42 per cent said they were looking for more variety in their meals that couldn’t be found in the cupboard.

“OpenTable data shows Canadian restaurants saw a decline in seated diner numbers in January. We also know from the fall, that Canadians are eager to dine out when they feel confident,” said Canada’s OpenTable director, Matt Davis. “Diners can support restaurants by ordering takeout and delivery, buying gift cards and showing up for dine-in reservations as restaurants recover.”

Through their Show up for Restaurants page, the online reservation service is attempting to educate diners on the impact of no-shows, how to facilitate restaurant take-out and delivery options, which safety tools to help diners navigate changing restrictions and advise how restaurateurs can reconnect with guests.


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