Kamloops & District Chamber of Commerce News

Debrief | 9 Opportunities for the Hospitality Industry

The roundtable began with presenter Ian Tostenson from the BC Restaurant and Food Service Association explaining the BCRFA’s role as a resource. From manuals on hospitality regulations, to bringing in skilled workers through labour policies, to promoting a young workforce, the BCRFA is there, 24/7, to answer any questions one might have.

Then, Samantha Scholefield began with the official presentation!

9 Opportunities Arising from the Pandemic

EVERYONE IS LOOKING AT THEIR TIME DIFFERENTLY. Restaurants are places for connecting, and as restrictions lift, they should be promoted as such. Welcome your guests back, and offer specials- make sure your customers are aware you’re taking parties, small groups, coffee chats, etc.

YOUR NEXT CUSTOMER IS HYPER LOCAL. Focus on your restaurant’s neighbors, not just those who work in the area as people may still be working from home. Try to focus on the customers who are in the immediate area. Regularly change signage and boards to attract these customers.

SHARE THE RIGHT INFORMATION, REGULARLY. An incorrect online listing is worse than no listing at all! Keep your business information updated online. With constantly changing regulations and staffing challenges, keeping information available and consistent is important. Also, it’s totally alright to “dump” channels that you are not using and not keeping up-to-date.

TAKEOUT IS HERE TO STAY. Take advantage of a customer’s interest in different types of food- it can be 30% of your business. Ensure takeout takes a reasonable amount of time, and if your food doesn’t travel well, consider take and bake, frozen and fresh grab-and-go meal kits.

STOP TRYING TO BE ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE. Concentrate and focus in on a small menu that you can do really well. Small menus are a great way to keep inventory and costs down. 1/3 of all food grown in Canada goes to waste, so don’t add food wastage to the pile! If you have menu items that don’t sell well, but have a following, try using weekly or daily specials to attract those customers all at the same time.

HOW TO STREAMLINE YOUR MENU. Maximize ingredients, and cost-test dishes to ensure consistency and cost control. Use seasonal or weekly features that consider the supply chain, price, and availability of ingredients. Focus marketing efforts on local channels, and if you make changes, make those changes visible on social media. Showcase your team members and what they do for your restaurant.

CUSTOMERS WANT TO SEE WHERE YOUR FOOD IS COMING FROM. Showcase your local suppliers! Provide more details on your menu. Talk about the local impact on social media. All of these will tell your clients you’re dedicated to the community, and can help explain higher prices.

ACTIVATE YOUR SERVICE HOURS. Look at your core busy hours and change your business hours to match. If you’re not getting customers past 8pm, don’t stay open past 8pm! Daylight hours are really good for business right now because the outdoor space can be activated, so try to be open for the midday crowd. As well, do more with the hours you are open- offer flights, pairings, charcuterie boards, tasting menus, and late lunch or brunch specials to make your business a must-stop.

What is next?

BUILDING GUEST CONFIDENCE. What are you doing differently to welcome guests back, and what are you keeping from the pandemic in order to ensure guests feel comfortable? If need be, update your staff’s job descriptions so they know the new workflow.

LEVERAGING PANDEMIC GAINS. If you want to keep your outdoor patio, have you applied for a patio extension with the City and LCRB? Are you taking full advantage of wholesale pricing on alcohol? Are you offering alcohol pairing suggestions for your take-out orders? Make sure to activate the spaces around your business to give that little bit extra that will attract customers.

ANTICIPATING STAFF SHORTAGES. Make sure you have a contingency plan in place to account for staff who must be off sick. Review your COVID Protocols, have a Communicable Disease plan, and stagger staff breaks to minimize opportunities for transmission within your business.

PAID SICK LEAVE. Everyone now gets 5 paid sick leave days, based on an average day’s pay, if they have worked for you more than 3 months. This means that if a part time employee works 8-hour shifts twice per week, and another part-time employee works 4 hour shifts 4 days a week, they will be entitled to different pay for the day- the employee who works 8 hours is entitled to an 8-hour day’s worth of pay, and the other is entitled to a four-hour days worth. Ensure you are taking this into account when scheduling.

TACKLING THE LABOUR SHORTAGE. Less than 2 people are joining the workforce for every 3 retiring. As 34% of the restaurant workforce are young workers, this means the labor shortage hits the restaurant industry hard. Try to attract young workers, as well as retirees with communicable skills who might be wanting to work part-time.

ENGAGING EMPLOYEES. Your employees have been through a lot through COVID. Are your staff feeling engaged and recognized? Place a focus on rebuilding the restaurant industry’s reputation as an innovative and exciting place to work. Create engagement with young workers, and support new employee management and training tools.

TEAM BUILDING, TRAINING, AND RECOGNITION. If your employees or customers have been with you loyally through the pandemic, acknowledge them! Cross-train and leadership train those who are willing. Recognize the effort of employees who have had to deal with very difficult situations and customers.

BRING MORE TO THE TABLE IN 2022. Be transparent about what you believe in. Recognize your staff and community’s support. Share your commitment to local suppliers, food and beverage on your social media and menus. Support your neighbors, friends, and farmers, so they can support you. Have personal conversations, and really reconnect with your customers and your community.

BCRFA Tools and Resources



There are different labour flows from different programs, and they are affected differently by the pandemic. With the Express Entry Dual Intent Visa, skilled labourers can come to Canada to work with the eventual goal of becoming Canadian. This stream has been affected less by the pandemic. The Working Traveller Visa, which grants work for up to 6 months, has conversely been very affected by the pandemic, as for some countries, it becomes difficult to re-enter one’s home country after the travel has concluded. As well, international students, who can work up to 20 hours a week, have declined over the pandemic, but we are hopeful this stream will pick back up as restrictions lessen and people feel more comfortable travelling.


The short answer is no. However, the BCRFA has been putting significant pressure on the government to be able to file Labour Market Impact Assessments slightly differently, which will allow the streamlining of sourcing skilled laborers from outside of Canada. Currently, a business has to file a Labour Market Impact Assessment for every position they wish to fill. The change the BCRFA is pushing for would allow businesses to file an LMIA by geographical region or employer, instead of for every position, to allow for broader recruiting and marketing campaigns.

For any questions about temporary foreign workers, contact Brij (Information above in the “Tools and Resources” heading), and he will direct you to the stream that makes the most sense for your business.

For the Full Video of the presentation, please see below:


Ian Tostenson, President and CEO, BC Restaurant and Food Services Association
Samantha Scholefield, Program Manager, BC Restaurant and Food Services Association

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The Kamloops Chamber of Commerce is situated on the traditional and unceded lands of the Tk'emlups Te Secwepemc within Secwepemc'ulucw, the traditional territory of the Secwepemc people. We are honored to live and work and play on this land and acknowledge the complicated history and humbly move forward in a spirit of collaboration and gratitude.