This post is inspired by today's episode of CANADALAND discussing the impact of COVID upon restaurant, the rise of third-party delivery apps, and if restaurants have a future. No spoilers from me, listen here.
The Hamilton Farmers' Market, the City of Hamilton mismanaged commercial space at the centre of Downtown Hamilton had a hopeful revival underway prior to the pandemic. Not by design, the lower west end of the Market had become a food court consisting of an interesting variety of prepared food vendors.
It was a busy lunch destination for office workers, and it was growing. The Market closed at 6pm, and was only open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Long story, the Market is dysfunctional.
When COVID hit, the Market hours decreased. The Market begins closing at 4:00 p.m.
There are no offices open downtown, the doors from Jackson Square are locked making it harder for the relatively small number of people who live downtown to get to the Market.
You get the picture, and it is not good. Many of the prepared vendors close permanently. Interestingly, new vendors come in to replace them.
Third-party delivery apps. No longer are the vendors trapped by Market hours, they are able to sell their food on the apps, and hand the order out the door for delivery or pick-up.
Proper and license kitchens are in limited supply in Hamilton, the Market provides small businesses low rent, no overhead, and a downtown location. It's not a ghost kitchen, but shares the attribute of operating solely for third-party app business outside the limited hours it is open.
Just this week, City Hall installed new decals on the doors. 4:00 p.m. is now the permanent closing time of the Market.
This past Grey Cup Saturday, as dozens of tourists and visitors were in the Market ordering food at 4pm, the City's private security guards were politely informing them the Market was closed.
In the case of the Market, third-party apps are now the only viable business model.
Every rule has its exceptions.