Jessica Simmiss, owner of Melrose On Adelaide in Toronto
The restaurant industry was quickly permitted to offer customers takeout and delivery in the early days of the pandemic. Some made the change swiftly, others laboured on how to best deliver their product. That’s why Jessica Simmiss, owner of Melrose On Adelaide in Toronto, didn’t rush into it until she could meet her high standards. She believed customers deserved an experience as intimate and personal as her restaurant’s at-table service.
"We’re just now pivoting to takeout. We didn’t rush to do this right away as it’s not a service we’ve offered before. The whole experience of Melrose is dining in with us, and we have some of the best staff in the city who pride themselves on service and providing an intimate guest experience. However, we have to keep the brand we love alive so here we are!" – Jessica Simmiss, owner of Melrose On Adelaide.
When the pandemic struck, it hit the food industry hard. Many restaurants were forced to close their doors or lay off staff. Luckily, some restaurants were set up for takeout, others scrambled with how to best adapt their business. Jessica Simmiss, owner of Melrose On Adelaide in Toronto, worried that offering takeout too quickly would undermine the quality her Melrose On Adelaide customers were accustomed to. Instead, she decided to take her time and plan her business’s next steps carefully.
She worked to create a locally curated takeout menu, filled with delicious drinks and appetizer kits to make people’s happy hour even happier. Simmiss also decided to sidestep delivery and solely offer restaurant pick-up to ensure quality could be controlled. This let her protect the reputation she’s worked so hard to build for her restaurant.
But even with this new service available, she’s very much looking forward to getting back to normal. "I miss seeing the bar full. I miss seeing the bartender suggest the guest tries something new - maybe a cocktail or different wine. I miss the interactions with new faces and regulars; seeing people having a good time with friends, colleagues or family.” Moving forward, she thinks it’ll be interesting to see what’s expected of restaurateurs to keep everyone safe when they’re allowed to reopen.
Times may be tough for small businesses, but often perseverance is essential. Simmiss encourages owners to stay resilient and stick it out. “Do not forget where you came from. You hustled to get where you are, and you can do it again. You took a risk going out on your own and are more resilient than you think! Lean on your community and do not be too proud or afraid to ask for help. We’ve got this if we stick together." It’s time to spread the word about how important small businesses are. By shopping local, we can support the unsung pillars of our communities.
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