For the first time since the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, London, Ontario will have an unrestricted summer festival season, bringing back a promotional lifeline for restaurants.
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One of these restaurants is based in Hamilton Caribbean Flavahwho is in town this weekend for the London International Food and Drink Festival.
“We’ve been doing festivals for about 22 years…we’ve missed it very much,” said owner Denry George.
“It’s a way to get away from the restaurant, get away from almost everything and be somewhere new every weekend.”
This weekend marks Caribbean Flavah’s third festival this season, and George says there’s been “a surge of customers.”
“People are really excited to come out and even more of them are coming out than before.”
Things have been just as busy for the London BBQ team Jack the Ribberwho spent last weekend at the Stratford Live Music and Food festival.
“It’s like a little getaway,” team member Zena Aywas said of the return of festival season.
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“It’s fun, you meet new people, interact with different types of people and some people, they make my day when I’m working, so it puts a big, big smile on my face.”
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Joseph Alexander, the owner of the London restaurant Triniman kitchensays “all those vendors should be happy” now that unrestricted festivals are back.
He has a busy summer ahead of him that includes stops at Sunfest, the Home County Music and Art Festival and the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, formerly known as Caribana.
“It’s very good for business because since COVID we’ve suffered so much.”
This summer also brings a chance for restaurants such as Yaya’s kitchen to try something new.
The Old East Village-based restaurant, which started in Maryam and Malvin Wright’s backyard in 2017, serves northern Nigerian dishes, as well as an array of other African dishes.
“It’s our very first time at the International Food and Drink Festival, so the pressure is on right now, but we know we’re ready,” said Amsa Yaro of Yaya’s Kitchen.
“Let’s see how it goes, but hopefully we’ll cross our fingers as it’s an avenue to expose more people to our food, so they know what we’re doing here in London.”
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