Dumpling House chooses safety of staff, customers over indoor dining

They're opting not to reopen dine-in for the safety of their staff and customers

Front of Dumpling House restaurant
TORONTO - Picture of front of Dumpling House restaurant building. Located at 619 Gerrad Street in East Toronto. (Jessica Lopez/Toronto Observer) 

Dumpling House, a well-known restaurant on Gerrard avenue in Chinatown east, is choosing not to reopen its indoor dine-in space to the public after COVID-19 restrictions around indoor dining are loosened.

The reason is for the safety of their staff and customers, the owners said.  

The Ontario government announced Jan. 22 they are releasing a three-step plan to start lifting certain COVID-19 restrictions that will take effect Jan. 31.

The restaurant owners are ‘dim sum master’ Julie Zhu, chef Jerry Li and daughter, Cindy Li. Zhu and Li are experienced restaurateurs, having previous experience opening a restaurant in China before coming to Canada. They opened Dumpling House in December 2012.

Like many restaurants at the beginning of the pandemic, they closed their doors and adapted to managing their business through online and phone orders. They’re refusing the choice of reopening dine-in for the safety of their staff and customers.

“[The] virus is unpredictable, but we want to make our business predictable and consistent for our customers and employees,” Cindy Li said.

When you enter Dumpling House, the entrance way remains open, but you are met with clear fibreglass barriers and tables blocking off the rest of the restaurant. One of the workers will greet you and explain the ordering process. Their menu is laid out, with paper and pencils so you can note the number of the item you want. Once you’re ready, one of the staff takes your order to the kitchen. 

Cindy Li does acknowledge that restaurants opening their indoor dining option will help a lot of businesses. Yet, with the many variants of COVID-19, such as Delta and Omicron, it makes staff question their safety and customers.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has made waves in Toronto, many staple restaurants of the city had to close down due to multiple lockdowns.

Uncertainty makes it hard for restaurants to survive: owner

Statistics Canada revealed that in 2020, there were about 65,000 restaurants or food establishments operating in Canada. Restaurants Canada estimated in December 2020 that 10,000 restaurants had closed due to the pandemic.

Dumpling House remains loyal to serving its customers. 

“Open for half a year and close for another half year will also be hard for most restaurants to survive. It is sad to see lots of great restaurants already shut down, and we will try our best to be here and serve our customers,” Cindy Li said. 

The list of restrictions that will be lifted Jan. 31 includes an increase in the maximum number of people allowed in a social gathering — up to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. Shopping malls, movie theatres, gyms, and indoor dining can reopen at 50 per cent capacity. 

By using the three-step plan, the Ontario government says it aims to eventually lift all restrictions on indoor settings, and customers will be able to enter an establishment with valid proof of vaccination.

About this article

Posted: Jan 30 2022 9:00 am
Filed under: News