Penticton businessman Chris Bouchard has launched a volunteer delivery service group to help local restaurants cope with the new provincial COVID-19 restrictions. (Contributed)

Penticton businessman Chris Bouchard has launched a volunteer delivery service group to help local restaurants cope with the new provincial COVID-19 restrictions. (Contributed)

Man launches volunteer-based delivery service to support Penticton restaurants

Service aims to help restaurants move away from delivery apps; volunteers, owners encouraged to join

As local restaurants cope with yet another blow under the province’s new COVID-19 restrictions, one Penticton businessman has come up with an innovative way to support them.

New public health restrictions put in place March 29 have ended indoor dining at restaurants until at least April 19. Restaurants across the province are now forced to depend on income from take-out orders and/or guests dining outdoors.

READ MORE: B.C. stops indoor dining, fitness, religious service due to COVID-19 spike

For spots without a patio, the restrictions are particularly damaging.

Penticton businessman Chris Bouchard saw how local restaurants were struggling with the new restrictions during a year that has already been extremely difficult and decided he wanted to do something to help.

Bouchard came up with the idea to get together a group of volunteers to deliver food for local restaurants so they can avoid the high commission costs of delivery apps.

Many restaurants have been forced to depend on delivery services like SkipTheDishes and DoorDash during the pandemic.

However, these delivery apps take a cut of sales, making it difficult for restaurants to meet their profit margins. Bouchard called delivery apps a “necessary evil” for people in the restaurant business.

According to a report from the Canadian Press, delivery platforms can take up to 30 per cent in commission.

READ MORE: Local restaurants feel squeezed by delivery apps’ commission fees

The volunteer delivery service would give restaurants a chance to save money and also for customers to save money on delivery fees, Bouchard said.

Bouchard took to social media to tell people about his idea and started the Facebook page “Support Penticton Restaurants 2021 – Volunteer delivery drivers” which is now up to 38 members.

“I don’t know a lot of restaurants that want to be on Skip,” Bouchard said. “The majority of them have just decided that it’s just a necessary evil… just kind of a cost of doing business.

“This is just something I felt was an easy way to connect parties that have something to give with businesses that need the support.”

People interested in volunteering to become a delivery driver have to join the Facebook group, sign up and provide their availability and then connect with local restaurants in need of a driver.

Restaurant owners and managers are also encouraged to join the page to connect with volunteer drivers.

Supporting restaurants right now is crucial, Bouchard said. Many were already struggling over the last year and the new restrictions put them in a perilous spot. For some, their future is in jeopardy.

“I think that the restaurants in this community have spent the last year being at the brunt of public health orders,” Bouchard said. “I think they’ve just been in fight-mode for a year now and I think that they’re mentally, physically and financially exhausted and stressed.”

One of Bouchard’s restaurateur friends described the new restrictions as “the nail in the coffin.”

Restaurants, particularly good ones, Bouchard explained, are also an extremely important part of Penticton’s economy.

“You can’t have a good tourism scene without good food,” Bouchard said. “Anything we can be doing to keep money in their pockets at this time is going to benefit not only them but the city in the long run.”

People interested in volunteering their time as delivery drivers should be aware that there may be additional but small insurance requirements for their vehicle.

For more information visit Bouchard’s Facebook group.

READ MORE: Penticton restaurants reeling under new restrictions



jesse.day@pentictonwesternnews.com

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