Constant State of Flux – How Downtown Businesses are Adapting to Doing Business During a Pandemic

Part 15

Fast Food Staples

We have heard a lot lately about COVID-19 fatigue in relation to restrictions and being stuck at home for over a year. There are many employees and business owners, however, who are essential workers and cannot work from home, and who are often helping to serve other essential workers. These employees are food service workers, and they have been working throughout the course of the entire pandemic.

At first glance, some may argue that quick serve or fast food options are not truly ‘essential’ in a pandemic, but these businesses serve as an important option for others whose job still requires them to go to work, as a low-cost meal option for everyone, and as an option for those of us who are able to work from home but simply do not have the desire or energy to make a meal sometimes. We have seen the importance of having these restaurants open downtown first hand as they have become a destination for those employees that are still coming into work. Construction workers, for example, have been making an effort to buy their coffees and meals from these restaurants. Having this business is much needed – with a large portion of our downtown businesses working virtually there are fewer people physically downtown to stop in for snacks, lunch, or dinner.

We have multiple chain restaurants that have been part of the downtown community for years and are located in the heart of the city on King Street – Subway, Popeye’s, Gino’s, Pizza Pizza, and Tim Hortons. National Pizza has been a staple on the street since the early 1990s as well. A Domino’s location can be found at 96 Main Street East. Unique options exist as well for a quick bite like Hui Lau Shan for delicious mango specialties on King and the always-popular Lulu’s Shawarma on King William. On an even smaller scale, several of our office buildings have long time cafés that are remaining open to serve those workers who still need to be able to come into work. M & N Desserts can be found in 105 Main Street East, The Downtown Café at 20 Hughson St. South continues to offer their daily specials, and One James Café even has online ordering available.

Even with a significant drop in regular customers, these businesses have remained open and many are available for delivery on several platforms or provide order ahead options. Much like when we covered convenience stores last week, these businesses were created to be a handy solution, to specialize in having portable meals made quickly – exactly what we need while indoor dining is off the table and there are limited capacities inside businesses.

The food service industry is a massive one, and while fast food options might not spring to mind when thinking of small businesses, these businesses are managed by local owners and just as much of an important piece of the downtown community. The next time you’re looking for a quick bite consider ordering from a downtown location, they are ready and happy to serve you.




If you are a Downtown Hamilton BIA member business and would like to share your experiences during COVID-19 please email Suzi Ozer at




The Downtown Update is the e-newsletter sent by the Downtown Hamilton Business Improvement Area to keep both members of the BIA and interested supporters of Downtown up-to-date with activities and issues in the core of our community.