“Navigating this pandemic is like tap dancing in quicksand. Things are continually changing, and there’s never any solid footing.” Explains Fraser Abbott, Director of Business Development for the Hotel Arts Group.
Calgary’s Yellow Door Bistro, located within the Hotel Arts downtown Calgary, offers casual fine-dining style breakfast, lunch, and dinner options to Calgary locals and hotel visitors alike. They prioritize local sourcing for their ingredients and aim to create approachable but refined dishes that can be enjoyed by all. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Hotel Arts felt the impact as both a hotel and a restaurant. They went from a staggering 260 employees to merely 6, and have spent the past few months gradually re-opening and figuring out how to safely navigate this unprecedented landscape.
Yellow Door Bistro is well-known for its incredible brunch menu, offered in the typical communal “buffet” style. With the introduction of new health guidelines, they were forced to get creative if they hoped to continue serving their guests. They came up with “Tabletop Buffets” for guests to enjoy, served directly to individual tables by the bistro’s chefs. These tabletop buffets involve a multi-course brunch, beginning with pastries, smoothies & parfaits, followed by an egg-based main that changes weekly and closing with a dessert. To celebrate Canada’s August camping season, they even created a smores sourdough pancake!
They officially re-opened for dine-in on June 18th, but with merely 50% capacity they set up a curbside pickup system to offset this significant reduction. The Yellow Door team created a website for their to-go offerings in a pinch, and Chef Quinn Staple continues to offer Chef-inspired gourmet take-out meals at www.hotelartstogo.ca. Their curbside pickup system will remain active until restaurant capacity restrictions are lifted.
“People have been really amazing, and will sometimes deliver our food to elderly customers since we don’t have a delivery system.” States Fraser. “Every once in a while I’ll play bagpipes while bringing ‘piping hot’ food out for pickup if it’s a friend that ordered. We like to keep spirits high.”
Yellow Door Bistro saw interruptions in their typical supply chain as an opportunity to focus on local and regional producers and suppliers. With border closures and travel restrictions, the pandemic has been the perfect opportunity for restaurants across Canada to think about where they’re choosing to source their ingredients. Yellow Door Bistro is flexible about its menu and simply plans to accommodate what local suppliers have available during this time. They take pride in their unique Chef-inspired dishes and look forward to incorporating new ingredients.
As for the future of Yellow Door Bistro and Hotel Arts, they are doing all they can to navigate the uncertainty of COVID. Fraser believes that the hospitality industry is going to be one of the last sectors to recover, with the rapid decline of all non-essential travel.
“Restaurants are operating at a fraction of the capacity and guests that they once had,” says Fraser. “A lot of independent restaurants will close, but we’re going to try to innovate in order to avoid that.”
For more information on Hotel Arts and Yellow Door Bistro, please visit https://yellowdoorbistro.ca/.