Montreal is known for many things, one of them being its restaurant scene. Behind the incredible eateries of the city, there are hard-working, passionate locals who strive on the hustle and bustle of Montreal's energy. David Dayan is a local restaurant owner whose establishments Ryú Sushi and Cafe Livia have become go-to spots for many locals. And we got the chance to speak with him about what it's like to own a Montreal restaurant during these difficult times.
Dayan and his team have been using out of the box thinking to redefine their business.
With so many restaurants needing to alter the way they operate, owners like David Dayan are stepping it up to keep their business striving.
By keeping his business open, Dayan can keep some of his employees with jobs, something that's very important to him.
Not only does Dayan own Ryú and Livia, but he was in the process of adding a new restaurant to his repertoire called Ayla.
Dayan spoke with MTL Blog about all three of his brands and allowed us to gain insight into what it's like working in the restaurant business during these confusing times.
How have the current regulations put in place by the City changed the way you do business?
Our main concern at Ryú, since we work closely with high quality, raw ingredients, is safety.
Our business model has had to change due to COVID but our approach has not. We strive to offer a restaurant type meal in the comfort of your own home.
What made you decide to reopen Ryú to offer delivery and take-out services?
We decided to reopen Ryú because we felt that people needed a sense of normalcy. Nothing is better than having a fresh meal prepared for you after cooking for so many days in a row.
We believed that there was a strong desire for our product, which was proven to us via our social media platforms and through numerous emails we received.
What would you say is the biggest struggle you've faced during these difficult times?
The biggest struggle has been to shift our operation from a high-end restaurant to a take-out and delivery model while ensuring our staff and our customer's safety.
How have your clients been reacting to your reopening?
We're so blessed to have a loyal customer base and they highly encouraged us when we were thinking of reopening. We would like to thank them for their continued support during these times.
Are you planning on reopening Livia anytime soon? Or, is it too hard to do with so much uncertainty?
We've decided to develop a new approach to Livia, called Livia Sweets. This has been in the works for a while, as Livia the woman always leans towards healthy food alternatives, while fulfilling her sweet tooth.
We are excited to announce that Livia Sweets will be available for pick up from Ryú Peel, Ryú Laurier, and Ryú Westmount as of next week. Livia Sweets will eventually be available on most delivery apps as well.
You were supposed to have a new restaurant opening in May called Ayla. What can you tell us about what will be happening with that project?
This was extremely heartbreaking for us we had put a tremendous amount of work into preparing and opening this exciting new concept.
We will be transitioning to a delivery model for Ayla called Ayla À La Maison. We will feature a menu that is more suited for delivery and that will incorporate a lot of known and re-interpreted dishes from the Mediterranean and the Middle Eastern regions.
How has everything happening in the world affected the way you view your businesses?
It definitely made me take a step back and analyze how vulnerable we are as individuals and as a society.
Since we've stopped operations on some businesses, and relaunched others, it has made me cherish all of our employees, clients, as well as suppliers. I want to thank everybody that has supported us during these hard times and we look forward to serving you in person soon.
What can Montreal locals do to support both your business and other local businesses during this period?
There's a crisis relief fund, called Montreal Restaurant Workers, they have done an amazing job at supporting restaurant staff at this time.
Any donations made to them are much needed and appreciated. The loss of jobs in our industry has been tremendous and truly heartbreaking.
Do you have any advice you can offer other local businesses right now?
The advice that I can give is to not give up. These times are difficult for everybody, but the government has stepped in with a lot of different programs to help save all businesses across Canada.
We must take advantage of this and prepare to reopen to our businesses when being safe. We're all in this together and we must not fear the unknown.