COVID-19, Food, News, Video

Surviving Lockdowns: How this Ontario Family Restaurant is Faring

Between a dramatic dip in customers and soaring delivery app fees, local restaurants are struggling to survive.

Multimedia by Thomas Gotzamanis

By Vanessa Nim

For this family-run restaurant in Stouffville Ont., lockdown restrictions almost caused them to lose everything. 

In March, the Fickle Pickle nearly had to close its doors for the first time in 21 years. 

“I had 25 dollar days, when you know, I’d be driving back home, and the tears would come down, and go, ‘well tomorrow’s another day, let’s just keep stomping,’” said Beth-Lee Paraskevakos, co-owner of the Fickle Pickle. 

Beth-Lee Paraskevakos and her two sons, Joshua and Matthew, stand outside the family business on Oct. 24, 2020. The family has operated the Fickle Pickle for 21 years. (Thomas Gotzamanis/RSJ)

According to Restaurants Canada, 10 percent of all Canadian Restaurants closed permanently within the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It was kind of surreal. Back in March, it was an overnight experience,” said Paraskevakos. “It was devastating. This is our family business. It’s been part of who we are, and all of a sudden it was just gone, and it was like, ‘now what’?”

Paraskevakos said that beyond loss of business, soaring delivery app fees have made it difficult to continue serving their community.

“They take a big chunk. Any profit, any anything, they take it all. There’s no negotiation there,” said Paraskevakos.

The Fickle Pickle is Stouffville’s longest standing restaurant and has attracted returning customers for over two decades. 

Stouffville resident Danielle Particka said the restaurant is a vital piece of her hometown.

“Since I can remember  like growing up, I’d always go there, and I get the same thing every time I go. Without it being there it would be like something’s missing in our hometown,” Particka said.

Read more: The Costs of Lockdowns

How are restaurant closures changing our favourite Toronto neighbourhoods?

Explore our interactive Storymap to see which restaurants have closed in Toronto’s Entertainment District and along College street.

October 30, 2020

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Vanessa Nim

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