With international travel on pause, Kitsilano residents need to look no further than La Quercia on Fourth Avenue for authentic Italian food. After years of cooking his way through Italy and learning from some of the best chefs in the world, chef Adam Pegg decided to open up La Quercia in 2008 with his wife, Karin. Their goal was to bring traditional Italian food prepared using century-old techniques to the city of Vancouver. From hand-rolled pasta to vegetarian and gluten-free options to imported wines, they’ve got something for everyone.
When all the restaurants in the city transitioned to takeout and delivery only, La Quercia was in a tricky position. Their specialty is the traditional dine-in experience, and they didn’t even have a takeout system in place before the mandated closure. Shortly following the forced closure, they implemented a takeout system where guests could order via phone and later come pick up the food in person. They opted out of any third-party delivery services as restaurant margins are razor-thin as it is, making a 30% commission fee unfeasible.
As an alternative to delivery, Karin and Adam came up with the creative solution to sell freezer-friendly meals. The meals were a lower price-point for customers, and people were happy to enjoy gourmet Italian cuisine in the comfort of their own home. The frozen menu includes varieties of baked pasta, braised meats, vegetable sides and starches. During the early pandemic days, when people were hesitant to visit crowded establishments such as grocery stores, these frozen meals were a saving grace for many Vancouver locals.
“The main difficult we’re facing is capacity constraints.” Explains Adam. “We only have room for half of our staff in the building, and we have a third of the amount of seating we used to. My wife has to turn people away, which is unfortunate.”
For an intimate restaurant that takes reservations, a big frustration comes in the form of last-minute cancellations and no-shows. When people make a reservation, and the restaurant must turn down customers to honour that commitment, it’s heartbreaking when people don’t show. The restaurant could have otherwise given that table to another group. When customers make a reservation, it’s critical to consider the restaurant and either show-up or cancel at least a day in advance.
“People are enjoying the limited capacity seating. It’s more intimate.” States Adam. “We’re trying to remodel the business to work with fewer customers because our regulars aren’t going to want to go back to the crowded environment. The hope is that eventually, people will spend more time at their dinner table, but when they do go out for dinner, they make it special. There’s so much burnout in the restaurant industry, and it would be better for everyone if we slowed down.”
For more information on La Quercia or to order handmade Italian food, please visit https://laquercia.ca/#/home.