VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Phase 2 of B.C.’s reopening plan has proved to be challenging for some businesses still trying to make it work during the pandemic.
There seemed to be plenty of hope and optimism as businesses started to reopen two weeks ago, however, rent remains a key issue for many business owners.
The federal rent support plan was something Kelly Gordon, owner of the local Romer’s Burger Bar chain, was hoping to use. But he says the landlords at his three locations have been unwilling to apply since it would require them forgoing 25 per cent of rent.
“We have great relationships with the landlords and are on various deferral programs with most of them,” he says. “It’s just we’re not in control of that rental program. The landlords have to apply for it.”
All three Lower Mainland locations of the burger chain have different landlords.
After reopening, business climbed to about 60 to 70 percent of what it was before the pandemic, Gordan says.
“A 70 per cent level of revenue from where we were before is not sustainable. We would need to get a much higher level to really make a go of it,” he says. “Hopefully, everybody is doing the right thing and we can get to [Phase] 3 and [Phase] 4 and get back to normal as soon as possible.”
Seating has been reduced in the restaurants, which is part of the drop in business. Gordon says delivery is still going strong, though, after a slight decrease when restaurants first reopened.
He has been able to keep all his staff, but says keeping things going is still tough.
“It has been stressful, there’s no question about it and we’re not through this thing yet,” he says.
Elsewhere, Marc Rizzardo, owner of Metrotown Orthopedic and Sports Physiotherapy says his clinic can survive, however, the increased personal protective equipment costs add up.
“That will definitely be an expense that we hadn’t budgeted for,” he says, adding it has been challenging to source PPE.
Businesses is also at about 60 or 70 per cent for Rizzardo. Once elective surgeries start up again, he says he suspects operations to be about the same as they were before the pandemic.
“We see a lot of post-surgical clients, so I think we’re going to get busy again to where we were before, hopefully pretty soon,” he says.
Rizzardo’s landlord is applying for federal support, and he’s optimistic he can keep going.
“I can foresee it getting busier,” he says. “For us, I think it’s going to work out okay. I think we probably won’t be able to get back to normal for a month or two here. I think we’ll be able to ride it out.”
For now, his business is also offering virtual appointments for clients that are more at risk for COVID-19.