Food In Canada

How Canada’s bar & beverage scene is evolving in 2023

By Food in Canada Staff   

Food Trends RC Show Restaurants Canada

Canada’s bar and beverage scene has had to pivot, innovate, adapt and evolve over the past few years as a result of the pandemic and changing consumer tastes.

We sat down with the 2023 RC Show’s bar and beverage ambassadors, Christina Veira (founder/owner of Stave and Toronto’s Bar Mordecai) and Evelyn Chick (owner of Evelyn Chick Projects, Love of Cocktails, Ahma and Simpl Things) for a Q&A to learn more about the state of the bar and beverage industry. The award-winning cocktail entrepreneurs share what’s trending, why bars are adopting more “inclusive menus,” what changes we can expect to see from Canada’s bar scene in 2023 and what bar and restaurant owners have done to stay competitive and address challenges to elevate consumer experiences.

What is the current state of the bar & beverage scene? How has it evolved in the past few years?

The bar and beverage scene is definitely still catching up and recovering from the impact of the pandemic. A lot of decisions made in physical spaces were reactionary to the ever-changing restrictions and challenges that bars and restaurants have faced. The bar industry was forced to reimagine ways to serve—from bottle shops and take-out programs to virtual experiences, bars and restaurants often had to pivot to new business models despite limitations from spaces that weren’t always designed to meet those needs. Upon the full capacity ‘re-open’ there was a ‘zero to hero’ effect where the industry experienced a flood of business that they were perhaps not ready to face, with expectations to immediately function ‘as normal’. Paired with staffing issues and a constant rise in cost of goods, the industry is definitely displaying a different level of resiliency, as they show their hustle by looking for practical solutions to support their businesses and changing consumer needs. Despite this, with adversity comes innovation. With necessary pivots, many establishments have found new ways to interact with customers and the industry has seen more innovation than ever before. Even through all the adversity, all these businesses remain the heart of society, and will continue to look for ways to nourish communities, and serve as a place for people to gather, celebrate, laugh and share.


Are there any long-term pandemic effects that continue to challenge the industry or new challenges expected on the horizon in 2023?

A lot of our core workforce has exited the industry. There is a huge shortage of back-of-house and front-of-house service staff. Many are looking for better job stability, longevity and upward trajectory, which sometimes the industry cannot provide, especially after the last couple years. Mental and physical health also plays a huge role in this exodus, given how taxing it has been to continue navigating a shifting industry. The rising cost of goods, paired with a looming recession, is on top of everyone’s mind and—as always—the industry will have to roll with the punches, taking each challenge one step at a time.

What are some solutions/words of advice for those struggling in the industry?

Stay true to the heart and ethos of your space, but keep an eye out for other revenue streams that align with your vision, whether it be pop-ups, events, bottle shops or something else. People love innovation and right now there is no shortage of that. Don’t be afraid of collaboration either—leaning on the community and helping each other out is the best way to create a thriving space.

Visit the RC Trinity Pop Up Experience curated by Matt Dean Pettit to see how to maximize your square footage with a bottle shop and retail experience that showcases the untapped resources and revenue potential for your business by being able to bring your products direct-to-consumers.

Can you share a few trends and innovation consumers can expect from the industry in 2023?

It’s all about the experience. We’re seeing innovation in terms of more experiential activations, from adding sensory elements to drinks to unique methods of service. There has also been a big push toward accessibility, adding in language in training around inclusivity and easier access for all kinds of consumers. Evolving from the rising trend of mocktails, we’re seeing more establishments offer non- or low-alcohol cocktails, as well as a wider variety of fun options to suit unique tastes.

How are you planning on bringing this year’s theme of “Heart & Hustle” to the upcoming RC Show?

Our programming will reflect some of the necessities that will help the industry recover and continue to innovate through the next few years. We have thought leadership panels on building team culture, sessions on design and branding as technology continues to become a big part of operations, and new sustainability practices. Ultimately, we’re highlighting the diversity, hard work and dedication that this industry continues to show and providing tools to future operators to navigate these challenges. The industry is resilient. Despite the challenges, we’re still seeing new spaces popping up with more diverse offerings than ever before.

For more information and to learn how to access this year’s trends, innovation and for insight into the state of the bar and beverage industry in 2023 and beyond, visit and join us at the RC Show from April 10-12 at Toronto’s Enercare Centre.

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