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The Cat came back: Restaurant meets learning curve head on

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For restaurants, it offered some relief – some.

But being restricted to take-out service only during the pandemic was hardly a simple matter of closing one door – literally – and directing customers to the other open door to that dedicated take-out counter.

If you’d never previously offered full-scale take-out you had to learn.

Fast.

Lisa Miller can wax candidly about what that learning curve involved.

“Like opening a new restaurant,” the popular owner of Lindsay’s Cat and Fiddle told The Advocate Podcast in the most recent episode.

“You couldn’t just set up a table at the back door and order in a case of take-out containers.”

She adds that the early stages of offering take-out were shrouded in the general anxiety that came with a shut-down and all the unknowns it generated.

It even involved her having to temporarily close her restaurant, in order to properly prepare for the new model, which included plexi-glass shields.

“Turning a negative into a positive,” was what she did, and thrived on the challenge, even insisting she and her chef, Junior Wray, not compromise by offering a reduced menu. It’d have to be full-menu only.

Today, Miller is buoyed by how her take-out has yielded a bigger return for The Cat than she’d expected.

“Our first night back, the phone wouldn’t stop ringing….we’re consistently having orders.”

“Now, we’re giving each other high fives” – the virtual kind, she stresses.

Miller is also quick to point out how her industry’s peers all came together in the past few months, eager to share advice and strategies, making special mention of Nicki Dedes at The Olympia Restaurant, Panné Vino’s Louis Karkabasis and Murphy’s Lockside Pub in Fenelon Falls.

“I formed a real connection with (other restaurant owners) that I never had before,” says Miller.

“That’s the thing about being in a small town. People support each other.”

You can hear the entire interview with the Cat and Fiddle’s Lisa Miller on the most recent episode of The Advocate Podcast: Stories from Kawartha Lakes, sponsored by Wards Lawyers. It’s available, for free, via Spotify, Apple Podcasts and at Lindsayadvocate.ca

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