Mike Del Buono, owner of King + Bannatyne in Winnipeg
The pandemic has forced small business owners to make tough decisions. They need to look out for their business and themselves all while trying to reconcile how to keep their people employed. Mike Del Buono, owner of King + Bannatyne in Winnipeg, decided to shift his restaurant to a curb-side deli. In doing so, it has become an essential stop for those looking to pick up some protein from a friendly face.
"Since I had just come back from a trip, I was in quarantine when we had to make the call to lay off our staff and get everyone on the emergency benefits. While we were closed for 2 weeks, I got some repairs done and met with my chef to come up with a plan.”
– Mike Del Buono, owner of King + Bannatyne.
After working in the food industry for a decade, Mike Del Buono decided to do his own thing. He opened King + Bannatyne in 2014 and picked The Exchange district in Winnipeg because of its vast history and arts scene. His vision was to create a restaurant with great camaraderie between staff and guests; so he designed it to feel like a community space. But all of that came to a screeching halt when the pandemic forced him to close down.
“At first, we attempted to survive on takeout and delivery, but we realized it wouldn't be enough. Our number one priority was making sure our staff was taken care of. With the volume we were doing there was no way we could provide enough hours for everyone to sustain themselves.” Del Buono met with his head chef and they came up with the idea to offer an online curb-side deli menu. This new approach allowed him to bring back some of his team while also offering customers a safe and convenient way to enjoy their food.
The restaurant industry has shifted significantly since the shutdown, but these changes could have deleterious effects down the line. Customers switching to delivery apps in the short term might not necessarily come back to dine-in restaurants once they get used to the new delivery system. There’s also going to be challenges regarding new standards for safety and social distancing that owners will be forced to adapt to.
Despite everything that’s happened over the past few months, Del Buono still feels optimistic about the future. And that is thanks to the tremendous amount of support from his community of neighbours and regulars. “We launched the new menu and had far more people come out than I expected. It gives me hope that Winnipeg is here to support us and get us through to the other side.”
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