Early on in the days of the "stay at home" recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic, my wife and I decided we wanted to help support local eateries - as we like to eat out every now and then anyway, this was an easy decision.

We called the locally-owned Vietnamese place nearby to order takeout, and to our dismay, we discovered that they had closed up shop totally - no takeout, no delivery, nothing. Disheartened, we searched for other places we could support, but we had a hard time finding any sort of central list detailing places that were still open in some capacity. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, we encountered this each time we tried to order takeout.

Last week, my wife had a brilliant idea - why don't we make the list ourselves? Between the two of us, we have the skills to make it a reality. Inspired by the idea, I got to work and had a prototype ready in a few hours.

The goal is simple - a list of restaurants that are still open, along with their current hours of operation, contact info, and website links. By adding a few categeories for filtering, the public can easily discover which establishments do delivery, takeout, etc., and take it from there.

We spent the next week (during our non-working hours) going back and forth with ideas, working out the details: what is the scope? What does it mean to be "local"? We narrowed it down to restaurants and breweries (sorry wineries, we love you too) that were owned or started here in British Columbia and had a presence in our city, doing some combination of food/drink by delivery or takeout. For the most part, this meant one-off joints only found here, but also includes small chains that are local to the area.

Together with wife, a communications professional, we fleshed out our strategy to bring the vision to life (spreadsheets are tremendously handy). Our combined skillsets helped us to keep our scope focused, and the user experienced streamlined. Finally, a week after the initial prototype, we had it ready to go, and launched it.

Only time will tell if it makes any difference and drives some more traffic to our local food and drink places. Early analytics reveal a few hundred visitors within the first hours of pushing it out on social channels, which is an encouraging start. At the very least, we were both able to leverage our talents to give back to the community while staying home, as is recommended to do.

If you happen to live in Abbotsford, please visit the website and find a restaurant to support. Further, let me know through the contact form there if there is a place that we don't yet know about so that we can add it to the list!