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Restaurants soon to open: Will Calgarians return to dining out?

Calgarian’s relationship with food and dining out has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some restaurants have remained open; curbside pickup and in-house delivery has been a lifeline for many.

Restaurants in Calgary still have to wait until May 25 to open to in-person service, but what will happen when they do? Is dining out going to be something Calgarians embrace right away?

While in lockdown Calgarians have adjusted their eating habits to cooking more meals at home while restaurants adjust to online delivery.  

Evelyn Cheng, a registered dietitian at Eatuitive Nutrition, has seen a trend towards healthier, at-home eating as the city went into shutdown.

This change meant instead of perhaps eating out a few times a week, Calgarians have had to get creative and bust out the pots and pans.

Optimism the healthy, in-home meal trend continues

Cheng said she has seen an increase in the desire for continued healthy eating among some of the most die-hard, dining out Calgarians.

“I work with a lot of executive clients, so they were used to going out to business lunches and dinners,” Cheng said. 

“I get a lot of those clients reaching out trying to find healthy meal plans to fill the meals they now have to cook at home.”

Cheng hopes to see the increase in home-cooked meals continue as restaurants and bar move to re-open on May 25.

“I think people will meal prep more, even when these restrictions lift,” she said.

Calgarians ready for restaurant re-openings

Calgarian Yvonne Chen doesn’t think that people will stay at home. She said the joy of eating out is too good to resist. 

“I know people will go out again and definitely not stay at home. If not, I’m sure they will use Skip The Dishes,” she said.

When the lockdown started, Chen said she tried to make healthy meals at home but that fell flat quickly. 

“I tried to cook at home but I really don’t know how to cook more than just basic meals, so that ended fast,” she said.

As a self-confessed order-in maven, Chen said she would order from delivery services three times a day. The habit was reduced to once or twice a week during this shutdown. 

Chen said she isn’t the only Calgarian wanting to eat out again.

“I think when restaurants open there will be lots of people wanting to get out of the house and go out,” she said.

Restaurant’s Loyal Customers Return

Bev Wojack, owner of breakfast-lunch restaurant Mom’s Place, has seen some of her loyal customers come back after her initial opening to online orders on May 14.

“Just as we opened yesterday we got lots of orders, something like five to seven online orders,” she said.

Wojack said that although they’ve been shut down, she’s confident her customers will come back slowly.

“Do we think they will come back?’ Absolutely,” Wojack said.

“We haven’t seen customers in anything close to the same numbers as before but I’m sure they will come back.”

Wojack is optimistic that this trend will continue, she said she’s seen some regulars come back as early as the second day of operation.

“I think just this morning we have seen 10-12 orders from some regulars that have come in for pick up,” she said.