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As restaurants struggle amid COVID-19 pandemic, TouchBistro hurries launch of online ordering tool

At the Canoe & Paddle, a 120-seat English-style pub in Lakefield, Ont., daily sales have dropped 90 per cent because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The family-run operation has laid off 18 of its 26 staff. To try to keep some business coming in, it’s started delivering alcohol and produce, and is launching a frozen-meal service.

The pub’s struggles are typical of those the hospitality sector has faced as social-distancing measures force them to close, which could affect the companies that provide point-of-sale technology. The Canoe & Paddle is one of the more than 25,000 clients of Toronto-based TouchBistro. In response to its customers’ struggles, the firm has hurried the development of a full online ordering system, launching today, for clients who can’t seat diners anymore. It’s also frozen hiring and reduced spending in a bid to weather the storm. “Do I think everybody in the [restaurant POS] space will survive? Absolutely not,” said CEO Alex Barrotti. But he and the firm’s largest venture investors believe it’s better placed than some of its major competitors.

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