VANCOUVER -- It’s been a tough year for restaurants. They were open, then closed, then opened again for limited seating, then closed again with patio seating only, and now they are open again. It's enough to make your head spin and enough to give restaurant owners a migraine.

“We dropped about 65 per cent in sales,” said Ron Macgillivray, owner of Fable Diner in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood.

There are many similar stories. Paul Moran launched Wild Origins from Tofino in December 2020 just before COVID-19 shut everything down. His company forages for wild foods from the forests and sea, like seaweed and mushrooms, and it had been offering foraging tours with dining experiences featuring the gathered food.

“It has been challenging times for sure for us,” said Moran.

Now both Wild Origins and Fable Diner have been thrown a lifeline by London Drugs through the company’s Local Central program. It offers up shelf space to local businesses and in May began to include local restaurants too.

“We thought what another great way for us to be able to help support restaurants and offer up some shelf space,” said Edwin Chang, manger of Vancouver’s London Drugs at Broadway and Cambie streets.

Wild Origins' six packaged foods and Fable Diner’s hot sauces are now available on store shelves at several London Drugs locations.

So far, 17 local restaurants that have joined the program and the businesses get to keep all the profits. 

“We do feel quite fortunate with the help that we’ve received from London Drugs being able to get our products into 14 stores,” said Moran.

“In times of the pandemic it’s a positive light for us,” added Macgillivray.

It is hoped they are not forced to close again but if they are, they are better prepared to handle the storm.

“We’re all in this together and I think it’s one of the best ways we’re going to get through this for sure,” said Chang.