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Vancouver restaurants clear fridges for shut down, donate food and money

Restaurants are looking for ways to use up every last bit of the food they have on hand, and also help out
Bovine is offering their rice bowls for sale by donation to clear out its stock before closing tempo
Bovine is offering their rice bowls for sale by donation to clear out its stock before closing temporarily in response to the COVID-19 crisis in Vancouver. Photo Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome

As restaurants around Vancouver make the painful decision to cease operations indefinitely during the COVID-19 crisis, many are looking for ways to not only use up every last bit of the food they have on hand, but also for ways to help the community.

In downtown Vancouver, Bovine — a small operation specializing in Japanese-inspired rice bowls that draws daily crowds of lunch-seeking office-dwellers — announced Wednesday it would stop offering take-out and close up shop for the time being. But what to do with the ingredients already on site?

"We have discussed what to do with our perishable inventory and we don’t want to see any good food be put to waste. So, for the rest of the week, we are inviting those in our neighbourhood to come and grab a bowl," said the oweners of Bovine in a press statement.

And by "grab a bowl," they mean just that. On Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., while supplies last, Bovine will make lunches available by donation only. They're located at 1050 West Pender St, Unit #118.  

Bovine says 100 per cent of what it collects will be donated to Union Gospel Mission Vancouver.

The restaurant explains that it will be set up with ready-made bags containing one of its bowls (roast beef, steak and vegan garden options) with no modifications available. It’s urging people not to travel out of their way to come in, but rather come if they are nearby, and once they've got their bag and made a donation, be on their way. 

"Navigating these trying times we realize that not everyone is as fortunate, or are in a position to be able to weather the storm. Helping out will look different for each of us, but we all need to do our part to get through this," said Bovine’s press release. Follow them on Instagram for updates.

On its last day before shutting its doors temporarily, the Red Accodion on Alberni Street, also set up an impromptu street-side "garage sale" of food, as one patron described it. 

All of the dishes had been made by staff who donated their time to help the restaurant empty out the larder before closing down. 

In an Instagram post, Red Accordion shared how things went: "Today was an emotional day to say the least. So full of community love, and full of support from our lovely staff. They all showed up, voluntarily, to cook away and make sure no food got wasted as we empty out our fridges. We’re so proud of our staff, and felt so loved by our neighbours. We can’t thank you all enough! Sorry we didn’t have more food, we honestly didn’t think we’d have such a turnout. We will ALL come back from this stronger."

Similarly, Hanai Family Table, the Hawaiian-style catering business, is hoping to help any restaurant out with inventory by buying its stock and then making community meals, with no profit. 

"We had planned to do some frozen meals for the community but after seeing the state of Costco today (where we get most of our produce since we are a tiny business), we don’t feel it’s right to bulk buy when others might need it," explained the business Wednesday on their Instagram

"So instead we are putting a call out to all small food business that might be in need of moving meat or produce. Let us buy it and make community meals out of it. Not for profit just to kōkua our Vancouver ‘ohana."

Few Vancouverites are tasked with helping out right now than those on the frontlines in the health care sector. To help them, Fable Diner (151 East Broadway) is now offering discounted meals for emergency personnel and health care workers. It will take 40 per cent off all take-out orders; to receive the discount you must be in uniform or show an ID badge or pay stub when you pick up and pay. 

Fable Diner is open for take-out from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Are you a Vancouver restaurant or food business with a creative option for connecting people with food or supplies? Know of a restaurant that's pivoted their model right now in response to the COVID-19 crisis in Metro Vancouver? Please let me know. Email

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