LCBO pauses partnership with SkipTheDishes in response to industry advocacy

Published December 6, 2020

In response to the advocacy efforts of Restaurants Canada on behalf of the province’s vital foodservice sector, the Government of Ontario has directed the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) to pause its on-demand delivery partnership with SkipTheDishes until further notice.

SkipTheDishes announced the partnership on Dec. 4, saying it planned to begin on-demand delivery to LCBO customers starting with 15 stores in Toronto.

Through the SkipTheDishes app and website, customers could have ordered wine, beer and spirits as well as gift bags, boxes and ice from their local LCBO stores.

As widely reported in the media, “the partnership caused consternation in the restaurant and bar industry, which has been relying in part on the sale of alcohol through takeout and delivery to pay its bills.”

The Ontario government introduced an emergency order in March that has allowed licensed restaurants and bars to include alcohol with food delivery orders as a way to support the industry amid the various restrictions that have been put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The temporary rule was previously set to expire on Dec. 31, 2020. But thanks to the persistent advocacy of Restaurants Canada, the government has committed to permanently allow restaurants and bars to continue selling beer, wine and spirits with takeout and delivery orders going forward.

Allowing licensees to sell alcohol for off-site consumption has long been a key ask from Restaurants Canada and was a top recommendation in our 2019 Raise the Bar report. With restaurants continuing to face devastating restrictions and a long road to recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, this revenue stream is needed now more than ever.

Support reaffirmed for struggling restaurant sector

Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips said in a tweet that he and Premier Doug Ford asked the LCBO to pause its partnership with SkipTheDishes as a show of support for restaurants.

“Restaurants have been hit hard by COVID, so we are supporting them, including by allowing them to sell alcohol w/ take-out & delivery,” the tweet said. “Restaurants still need our support, so Premier @fordnation & I asked LCBO to pause their recently announced delivery plans with Skip the Dishes.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory said in a tweet that he agreed with the suspension of the partnership.

“Premier @FordNation and Finance Minister @RodPhillips01 got this one right. Modernized liquor laws are the way to go but not right now with restaurants locked down. Good call,” the tweet said.

SkipTheDishes said in a statement to the CBC that it will continue its business as before: “SkipTheDishes respects the decision of the Ontario Government and remains focused on supporting our restaurant partners, working with them to provide a safe way to sell alcohol via takeout and delivery while allowing our customers to practice social distancing,” a spokesperson said in the statement.

If you have any questions or would like more information, you can get in touch with James Rilett, Restaurants Canada Vice President, Central Canada, at jrilett@restaurantscanada.org.

Marlee Wasser

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