When Peter Chiu (Hospitality & Tourism Management ’08) opened the first Basil Box restaurant in 2015, he wanted to adapt the concept of the street markets of Southeast Asia, using authentic ingredients, but cooked for the health-conscious North American clientele. Before lockdowns started in mid-March 2020, there were 17 locations across Canada and business was strong. But that’s since changed.
“Our volumes have dropped close to 90 per cent compared to what they were prior [to the pandemic],” says Chiu, who made a difficult but necessary decision to temporarily close many stores at the onset of the pandemic. This forced his team to brainstorm ideas such as frozen food preparation and fresh meal kit delivery. When these initiatives proved successful, Chiu was able to bring back some key staff. But at the time, with the future course of the pandemic unknown, Chiu still needed another solution.
Peter Chiu and colleague in the Basil Box kitchen. Photograph by Chris Donovan, Documentary Media ’22
Making health-conscious meals with authentic ingredients. Photograph by Chris Donovan, Documentary Media ’22