Restaurants preparing for long COVID winter

By | September 3, 2020

WINNIPEG — 80 per cent.

Christopher Graves said that’s the drop in business year over year from COVID-19 at the King’s Head Pub.

“It’s been an absolute brutal grind,” said Graves.

He said at 50 per cent capacity the patio was a boost as some customers were more comfortable sitting outside.

“It’s helped keep some of our staff going and things like that so it has been a saving grace for us,” said Graves.

With fall and winter creeping up, patio season is nearing an end.

Graves said he wants to add partitions inside, along with the daily cleaning routine, to make customers feel safe and attract then all winter long.

“For us to be able to survive we need people to come inside to the King’s Head.”

But partitions, cleaning, and masks add up, Graves said PPE and enhanced cleaning are costing him $2,500 a month.

The Manitoba Restaurant and Foodservices Association (MRFA) said it and seven other business organizations sent a letter to the premier, in the last month, asking for a subsidy program for businesses to deal with COVID related costs.

“To assist restaurants in trying to increase the capacity of their restaurants and to help cover some of the costs and unfortunately we were turned down,” said MRFA Executive Director Shaun Jeffrey.

In a statement a government spokesperson said:

“Rather than a top-down approach, the Manitoba government has designed some of Canada’s strongest support programs for small businesses to free up cash flow and allow businesses the flexibility to address their specific needs.”

“We’re looking for any help, any little bits going to help,” said Joe Loschiavo who is the owner of Pasquale’s Italian Restaurant.

Joe Loschiavo said his patio at Pasquale’s helped weather the storm too. 

But with COVID case numbers rising and winter coming, he’s trimming hours and shutting down for a week shortly to do a major clean. 

He too wants to make customers feel safe while preparing for the unknown.

“We’re all worried, it’s week to week right now, we don’t know what to expect, that’s the hard part, it’s the uncertainty. What do we expect? Are people coming?”  

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