Historic Durham restaurants struggle during COVID-19

Teddy’s Restaurant and Deli located at King Street and Park Road in Oshawa.

Well-established restaurants thrive off their community’s love for the business and the food. In a world with COVID-19, some Durham eateries are struggling to adjust to a takeout/delivery only model.

Teddy’s Restaurant and Deli, located at King Street and Park Road in Oshawa, has been in operation for 40 years.

Their loyal customers have kept the restaurant busy throughout the years, with lineups a common occurrence. Now, Teddy’s has made the switch to pre-ordered pickups, and a new delivery service, something they haven’t done before.

Bill Panos, owner of Teddy’s, says every day has been different and a new challenge is always coming up. Although Teddy’s remains open every day of the week, Panos says the business is struggling.

“Dramatically lower sales, day-to-day adjustments – it’s a whole new process of business,” says Panos.

There have also been issues with products, such as meat plant closures and shortages, according to Panos. Panos and his son James are partners in owning both Teddy’s and Mr. Burger, also located in Oshawa.

Despite their struggles, the pair have started to donate 1,000 meals a day to families and frontline workers during the pandemic.

“It’s a moment to think of the bigger picture, we’re all struggling,” says Panos. “I think that’s the dual purpose of operation right now, is to protect people’s jobs and the business, but also help the community as much as we can,” he says.

In neighbouring Whitby, local restaurant T & D Burger is also struggling to adapt. The restaurant is located in the Rossland Garden Plaza and has been in operation for 31 years.

Since COVID-19, T & D has had to lay off almost 100 per cent of their staff, according to manager Raj Siva.

Currently, Siva along with another manager are taking turns operating the restaurant. Siva says sales have also dropped drastically and T & D is relying on loyal customers ordering takeout.

“A lot of our regular customers come in and want to help the business stay open,” says Siva.

The historic restaurant has switched to offering takeout only, which Siva says is a concern. He says 90 per cent of sales are usually from customers coming into the restaurant while only 10 per cent comes from takeout.

“It’s a really hard time, even when we open we may not be busy right away because people are scared,” says Siva.

While both businesses are struggling during the pandemic, to many, they are still essential in providing some jobs for people in the community.

“I think what we’re going to experience is creating some kind of normal out of the pandemic,” says Panos.