When COVID-19 hit in early 2020, Travis and Jennifer Restoule did what many people did. They ordered takeout, to support one of their family’s favourite local restaurants.
It was the middle of April, when the Restoules ordered food from Ellison’s Bistro, a restaurant owned by a family friend. When they picked up their food, they could see the business was struggling in lockdown. When they ordered the next week, they brought around 35 more orders from family and friends.
With that, the We Are All In This Together initiative was born. The initiative is volunteer-run and supports a different restaurant in the community each week.
“Our heart really went out to [the owner]. He’s the sweetest soul,” Jennifer said. “So Travis said, ‘why don’t we throw it on the Eastbridge Association? Because if we’re going there to pick up, we might as well drop off … as well.’”
They placed 150 orders from their community on the first day.
The Restoules knew they were onto something, so they decided to call a few friends and ask if they would be willing to help out with deliveries. Their friends jumped at the opportunity.
Each week, Travis and Jennifer approach a different restaurant and create a lunch special. The restaurant provides pictures and a description of their food, and it is posted to the Eastbridge Association and surrounding communities by Thursday morning at 7 A.M. Participants can place their orders using a Google form. By Sunday night, the restaurant knows how many meals to deliver for lunch on Tuesday.
We Are All In This Together is completely booked for the month of April. Restaurants were initially skeptical of the plan but now, the initiative is in high demand. Their support has been monumental, however, the Restoules understand they cannot help everyone.
“It’s great they’re reaching out to us, but it’s disheartening too, in a way that we can’t help everybody,” Travis said. “When people think of a restaurant going through a pandemic, they think of the financial aspect…[but] it trickles down to their family, their employees—their everything. And when we hear stories from the different restaurant owners, it really breaks [my] heart.”
On average, the initiative has been delivering 300 meals each week, at one point selling as many as 500. Some community members have ordered through the initiative since it started a year ago. Jennifer said the support has been overwhelming.
“On a personal note, it’s helped me get through this…seeing smiles, a little wave, a hello, a goodbye, a thank you. You know, that’s what we’ve realized. We have an amazing, amazing community … and it’s just bringing us all closer together,” she said.
In addition to the hard-working restaurants and community support, Travis and Jennifer said their volunteers keep them going. Travis said they are second to none.
Jennifer said she is willing to help other communities start similar initiatives but believes everyone can do their part to support local restaurants. She suggested offering to pick up meals for family and friends the next time you consider ordering takeout.
“Back when our kids…were playing baseball and playing hockey, we always reached out to the restaurants to sponsor our teams and donate gift cards for different fundraisers,” Travis said. “Our restaurants need us now, and everybody needs to step up and…support every local restaurant that they can.”
For more information on the We Are All in this Together initiative, visit their Facebook page.
Care Lucas is Executive Director of WLU Student Publications, and Publisher of TCE. You may have bumped into her at Steel Rails over the years, or in one of the Region’s many magical record stores where she regularly combs through stacks of vinyl. At home she spends time building puzzles with her son Atticus, cat Garfunkel and chinese crested dogs Star and Dookie.