We Spoke To A Toronto Restaurant About The Impact Of COVID-19 & How They’re Surviving

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The days of bustling streetcars, full patios and packed hot spots seem like a distant memory for most Torontonians as the COVID-19 pandemic continues into month 13.

Meeting friends for brunch and cocktails to blow off steam, or heading to a cafe solo with a book and latte in hand, is a luxury many of us miss and can't wait to get back to — assuming our most-loved local haunts and restaurants survive long enough for us to visit.

Hard hit by provincial lockdowns, small businesses across Toronto have been closing their doors for good, while others have been busy reinventing themselves, testing new business models and doing whatever it takes to reach the other side of the pandemic.

But if there's one thing Toronto does well, it's coming together to support our own, with everyone from individuals to brands rising to the challenge of supporting local restaurants. One such initiative is the Little Lifts campaign, which was launched by TurboTax Canada this year to give a little lift to communities and businesses after an extremely taxing 2020.

TurboTax has also been working with local spots to support new ways to do business during the pandemic — like funding the development and delivery of meal kits. One of the restaurants they've partnered with is Donna's, a Junction Triangle eatery.

A not-so-hidden gem, Donna's popped up in November of 2018 and quickly became known for their all-day snacks and bites.

The lovechild of restaurateurs Ann Kim, Peter Jensen and Jed Smith, the Lansdowne spot offers up a cozy, vintage-inspired aesthetic with comfort foods so tasty you'll feel like you're at grandma's house — if grandma had worked at Momofuku like these three.

Speaking to Narcity about the impact COVID-19 has had on Donna's, Jed shared that they're grateful to still be operating, but the last year has been devastating to small businesses and Donna's is no exception.

Trying to fit the "Donna's experience" into a to-go container is a challenge, Jed told us, as the neighbourhood staple was a favoured meeting place and often full of lighthearted conversations, flurries of hugs between loved ones and cheerful bursts of long lost friends bumping into each other. The large wood table by the kitchen served up a way for strangers to become pals.

"We miss all these moments so deeply it's immeasurable," Jed told Narcity.