Helping restaurants during COVID-19 with Vanessa Akhras

Vanessa Akhras became a Hestian in the summer of 2020. She is a teenager living in Montreal and currently building an app to help restaurants during COVID-19 and beyond this pandemic. 

Vanessa Akhras

The arrival of COVID-19 has clearly impacted small Canadian businesses, with 32,0% of them reporting financial difficulty. But restaurants were hit especially hard. Prior to the pandemic, Canadian restaurants employed 1.2 million people, according to industry data. However, it was later estimated that 800,000 jobs in the restaurant industry were lost due to financial strain.

When COVID-19 hit, and lockdown measures were put in place, Vanessa missed going on food adventures with her friends. Having gotten acquainted with restaurant owners, she also realized how hard Covid had impacted these businesses. 

“Honestly, I really miss going out with friends, and I know that so many people out there also miss it, so I want to be able to help these people. I also want to help restaurants so they can avoid closing down.”

Thus, she is building a web-app that minimizes contact with menus and employees in restaurants. Her web-app allows restaurant owners to have the whole menu be easily accessible via a QR code. Instead of having menus circulating in the restaurant, Vanessa’s web-app lets customers scan a QR code to view the menu, order from the menu, pay for the order, and communicate with restaurant employees.

First prototype of Vanessa's web-app
“The dream would be to have a lot of restaurants in Montreal use the web-app”.

Vanessa hopes that her web-app will make both customers and restaurant employees feel less anxious and operate more safely. She believes that scanning a QR code to order instead of waiting for a waiter seems to be one of those things that will be ubiquitous in restaurants beyond the pandemic.

“Hestia is making me commit [to my project and learning goals] because I have mentors to help me. Knowing that this project can potentially happen because I now have the connections motivates me to continue building.”

Along with her mother's help, some research, learning about design, speaking to local restaurants, and mentorship from Hestia Academy, Vanessa built the base of the web app. She is currently adding features and developing the backend for order processing. Finally, once her web-app is ready, she plans to use the Hesta Takeoff Fund to produce barcode stands and purchase cloud credits to run her app.

If you are interested in learning more about Vanessa’s web-app and mission, please contact

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