COVID-19 recovery program provided much-needed support to more than 700 Manitoba restaurants/foodservices businesses in 2021

August 27, 2021 – A pandemic recovery fund designed to provide financial relief to Manitoba’s restaurant industry through delivery fee rebates is being considered a “delicious” success story.

The Dine-In Restaurant Relief Program, launched in January 2021 with an initial $5 million allocation from the Province of Manitoba, targeted support to dine-in restaurants required to close to in-person service due to Critical (red) COVID-19 prevention orders and who chose to shift to a delivery model.

Developed by the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce (MCC) and delivered in partnership with the Manitoba Restaurant & Foodservices Association, the program morphed into three phases with expanded intake criteria to include a broader range of affected foodservices businesses.

“The Restaurant Relief Fund grew into a $9 million initiative as we assessed the industry’s ongoing needs and advocated on their behalf as pandemic operating restrictions continued for more than six months,” said Chuck Davidson, MCC President and CEO. “When the relief program closed in July, we had approved more than 700 individual applications, returned almost $9 million in rebates to Manitoba’s resilient restaurant community, and helped many avoid the possibility of closing their doors permanently.”

“Our government has been pleased to work with the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, in partnership with the Manitoba Restaurant & Foodservices Association, to administer the Dine-in Restaurant Relief Program and offer support to the restaurant industry across the province,” said Honourable Jon Reyes, Minister of Economic Development and Jobs. “Manitoba’s restaurant industry has made significant sacrifices and pivots to protect all Manitobans and prevent the spread of COVID-19, and this program supported the transition to the novel delivery models used by Manitobans during the pandemic.”

The program provided much-needed relief at a critical time for the restaurant industry in Manitoba, according to Shaun Jeffrey, Executive Director and CEO of the Manitoba Restaurant & Foodservices Association.

“We are proud to have worked alongside the MCC to administer a tailor-made program to suit the specific needs of dine-in restaurants, caterers, and rural restaurants, based upon the feedback of our respective memberships. Restaurants and food service operators needed sector-specific support because of the unique hardships caused by the pandemic, and this program delivered that as effectively and efficiently as possible.”

This initiative was eagerly embraced by restaurant owner/operators such as Kristjan Kristjansson, Chieftain/President of Winnipeg’s Brazen Hall, which is located in Fort Rouge.

“With COVID-19 shutting our restaurant down, we were very fortunate that our province, with support from the Manitoba Restaurant & Foodservices Association and the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, made it possible for us to limit the fees for food delivery for our customers while we were working our way out of this very difficult time,” said Kristjansson.

The Restaurant Relief Fund is one of many COVID-19 recovery initiatives the MCC is administering in support of Manitoba businesses, alongside ‘support local’ campaigns and digital investments, the Manitoba Business Matters program, Student Jobs MB, and the Tourism Rebate Incentive Program (TRIP), with more announcements yet to come.

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About the Dine-In Restaurant Relief Fund

Phase 1 ($5 million – now closed) was designed to help offset the significant costs incurred by traditional dine-in restaurants that chose to shift to a food delivery model while under Critical (code red) restrictions of the RestartMB Pandemic Response System.

Phase 2 (now closed) expanded the program with $2 million in additional funding for dine-in restaurants doing delivery, and to include relief for eligible caterers affected by gathering restrictions, and for rural restaurants without delivery capabilities.

Phase 3 (now closed) expanded the program further in June with an additional $2 million in funding allocated for:

  • An additional month for previously-approved dine-in restaurants doing delivery;
  • A second rebate payment equal to the first for caterers and rural restaurants accepted into the program in Phase 2; and
  • Applications from fast casual restaurants and new applications from caterers and rural restaurants which saw a significant decline in revenue in 2020 over 2019 due to the pandemic and dine-in health order closures.

About Manitoba Chambers of Commerce (www.jointhechamber.ca)

The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, established in 1931, is the umbrella organization for Manitoba’s chamber movement. With a membership comprised of 68 local chambers of commerce as well as hundreds of direct corporate members, the MCC is Manitoba’s largest advocacy association for businesses, representing almost 10,000 businesses and community leaders throughout the province. #VoiceofBusiness #PoweroftheNetwork

About Manitoba Restaurant & Foodservices Association (www.mrfa.mb.ca)

The Manitoba Restaurant and Foodservices Association (MRFA) is a non-profit organization that serves as an industry advocate on behalf of its 400 restaurant members and 100 associate members. In addition to keeping its broader stakeholder community informed about relevant industry news, trends and issues, the MRFA primarily serves its members by providing networking opportunities and a forum to share ideas and offer solutions to industry specific challenges. Also available are education and development initiatives, as well as product and service discounts from fellow MRFA members.