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Victoria restaurants say meal-delivery service owes them thousands of dollars

Food delivery firm Tutti launched in Victoria in 2017

Several Victoria-area restaurant owners say they have been ­waiting months to be paid by a food delivery service.

Some have decided to no longer use Tutti, which launched in Victoria in 2017.

Tutti now also operates in Nanaimo, Vancouver, Kelowna, Kamloops, Chilliwack, Maple Ridge and Squamish, its website states. It “started as a comprehensive delivery platform with the goal of building a delivery service that brings communities together,” the company says on its website.

“Our initial team, ­consisting of many UVic and Camosun College students and alumnis, developed a state of the art application which is ideal for the needs of small businesses.”

Kavl Technology Ltd., with its registered office in Victoria, said on its website that its ­sub-companies Tutti, Islandlife and Quicklunches offer online food delivery in B.C.

Kaisa Aierken is listed on the B.C. Registry as Kavl’s director.

Aierken said in an email Thursday that he did not want to comment at this time.

Local food outlets saying they are owed money include J & J Wonton Noodle House Ltd. on Fort Street. The company filed a notice of claim against Kavl and Aierken in B.C. Supreme Court on June 16 for $220,775. Justice Jennifer Keim granted a garnishing order (prior to a judgment) for $197,120 on June 23. In such cases, money would be held by the court.

No allegations have been proven.

Maryanne Carmack, owner and operator of Roast Meat and Sandwich Shop, La Pasta La Pizza, and the Taco Stand in the Victoria Public Market at the Hudson, said she is owed about $6,000.

She is no longer using Tutti.

Carmack signed up because “they are a local company and we want to support local as much as possible and all of their marketing is about supporting local business.”

Losses reflect the cost to purchase food, the labour to prepare it, and the cost of packaging, she said.

Tutti charged the restaurants rates lower than larger food-delivery services, she said.

“This is coming at a very unfortunate time because all of us are still very much crawling out of the COVID blanket. We still have a lot of challenges.”

Roast is still missing about 40 per cent of its sales because not all workers have returned to downtown, she said.

“To have something like this happen when we are still struggling as a business is really upsetting.”

Cliff Leir, who owns two Fol Epi bakeries and Agrius restaurant, said he is owed $4,000. He has stopped using Tutti.

After signing up early in the pandemic he noticed this spring that regular payments were ­falling behind, at one time ­reaching a total owed of $10,000, he said. The company was apologetic and made up some of what was owing.

Leir said he tries to support local, even their salt is locally produced, and pays staff a living wage.

“We did okay when the [COVID-19] subsidies were coming in but now there are no subsidies,” Leir said. “It is very tight.

“We are barely keeping our head above water.”

At Soupa Cafe on View Street, co-owner Avi Lugassy did not want to reveal the dollar amount owed but said: “It is high enough that it would make a significant impact if they were to pay.”

At Cold Comfort Ice Cream Shop on North Park Street, owner Autumn Maxwell said she is owed $4,253. She too signed up early on in the pandemic and said funds arrived regularly at first.

Both Lugassy and Maxwell said they are speaking out to prevent other businesses from finding themselves in similar situations.

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