More than 360 restaurants across the country are championing support of local and independent restaurants by participating in Breaking Bread. This national movement encourages Canadians to continue calling on their favourite eateries during isolation for food delivery, curb-side pickups, meal prep services and groceries. Created by Shelley McArthur Everett, principal of Vancouver-based public relations firm SMC Communications, the platform’s rapid spread across country demonstrates how nimbly business owners can act when redirecting resources to support their own.
Breaking Bread was inspired by a collective desire to support workers whose livelihoods depend on continued operation of the restaurant industry. Though COVID-19 has forced the population into quarantine, this grassroots movement is a reminder that we can continue helping each other, and that you can maintain physical distance along with community collaboration. Below, Shelley explains her reasons for launching the collective and shares how her team rapidly pivoted to support the industry.
Honestly, this idea came about in a matter of hours. After a sleepless night on March 11, and seeing restaurants continue to close in other cities, I felt compelled to do something before it became too late in Vancouver. That day, I called a team meeting to put my idea in action. Within 24 hours, we had a campaign name, website and 23 inaugural restaurant partners. We launched on the evening of March 13.
Why do you think the movement spread so quickly across Canada?
We got the word out over social media, and leveraged our existing relationships within the hospitality industry. We were also lucky to receive strong support from media right away, including The Vancouver Sun, CBC Radio, Vancouver is Awesome, The Alchemist, Eat North and others. Soon after launch, restaurants in Vancouver, other cities and then other provinces started reaching out to us. We worked through the weekend and around the clock to scale the website so we could add them all.
What has the public response been to Breaking Bread?
In the first 24 hours of launching the website, we received more than 7,500 unique impressions. We continue to receive heartfelt messages from our restaurant partners telling us about people finding their services through Breaking Bread and expressing appreciation for the positive impact we are making on their sales. It’s also amazing to see Breaking Bread pop up on other groups and social media feeds I’m following that I have no affiliation with. The word is really getting out!
How long will Breaking Bread be active? Will you continue the initiative after we have reached some semblance of “normal”?
Of course, things are changing daily – and even by the hour – though I do think Breaking Bread is a useful service that people will long appreciate even after we’ve begun to rebuild. We’ve also developed the website in a way that allows us to add new services as things evolve, so we can update or pivot at any time.
What has this initiative shown you about your team at SMC Communications?
I can’t thank my incredible team enough for their tireless work on this project in support of the restaurant industry. They’ve all had to pivot on a dime again and again, and right from the beginning they each had a “whatever it takes to support our own” attitude. It’s really inspiring to see all our hard work come to fruition – and that it’s truly making a difference.
Canadian restaurants interested in becoming involved with Breaking Bread can sign up at www.breakingbreadnow.com.
Learn how other small businesses in Vancouver are pivoting their operations and manufacturing and adapting to the pandemic.
Is your business is also looking for opportunities to pivot or provide supplies to the COVID-19 effort?
The City of Vancouver has just debuted Give a Hand Vancouver, an initiative dedicated to assess and streamline the offers it is receiving from businesses and other organizations.
The Government of British Columbia has also launched the COVID-19 Supply Hub, where businesses may donate or supply the priority products listed on the site, or offer other services and products. The COVID-19 Supply Hub is another example of a swift public–private collaboration, this time between the BC health authorities and the tech community.