The group started because Smith, a local realtor, is a huge fan of food, and already had a Facebook group called “Buy Sell Love Eat” where he puts his own recipes, and has been going for a couple of years.
“When all of this COVID stuff started happening, I started to get concerned about restaurants because they were deemed non-essential other than takeout or delivery,” Smith explains. “I visited one of my favourite Vietnamese places in Whitby, and I gave them $75 and I said, ‘Look, you’re going to need this and I’ll come in and I’ll just draw from it.’”
He then began thinking, and then started a Facebook page called “Restaurants in Oshawa, Whitby and Clarington offering Take-Out and Delivery.”
“What I encouraged was people to go on and sign into the group, and post which restaurants were open and to post on there if they’ve ordered food, and to just share the experience, just to support the local restaurant community,” says Smith.
The group is now a month old, and Smith says he can’t keep track of the number of restaurants people have recommended.
“It’s like a rolling timeline… but there are 3,960 people who have joined the group in a month, and they’ve posted 24,000 comments,” says Smith.
He notes there was one post where a resident asked about pizza places, and received more than 50 comments in response.
“My goal is to help out the restaurant community, and also to make sure that people are staying at home,” he says. “It’s safe for people to order food and either pick it up or have it delivered.”
Some restaurants in Oshawa Smith says are still open include the Bulldog Pub & Grill, Portly Piper, Azian, and more.
“One of the biggest ones who just reopened because they closed for two weeks is Teddy’s Restaurant & Deli – Teddy’s is getting more traction on here than just about anybody,” says Smith.
Smith hopes to send a message to the public that restaurants are open, and he believes it is safe to order food and support the local food industry.
“Given the fact that a lot of people are dealing with a lack of income, with uncertainty, it’s so nice to the community come together like this, and support the restaurant community, but also support each other by having conversations online about the food their eating,” says Smith.