VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – With reports B.C.’s indoor dining ban will extend another month due to the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurant owners already struggling are feel knocked even further down.
Relying on take-out is a challenge for Bill Waring’s breakfast-based De Dutch restaurants. But they’re adding tables outside where they can and testing a new online take-out approach.
Waring says with the weather warming up, he has been hopeful for his business.
“We were looking forward to the summer. We were thinking ‘Okay, things are going to pick up,'” he said.
“We’ve got two restaurants in Kelowna and they were showing strong signs of recovery and then all of a sudden, there goes the rug — we were back in a position that was much worse than it was the same time last year.”
The BC Restaurant and FoodServices Association said Tuesday that restrictions on indoor dining across B.C. could last up to the May long weekend.
Ian Tostensen with the group says he and other industry stakeholders met with Dr. Bonnie Henry, claiming she confirmed the restaurants set to expire on April 19 will be extended.
Waring says almost all of his locations have been using third-party delivery, but he points out it can be costly to use companies like Uber Eats or SkipTheDishes.
“But for us, it’s been important to stay in the marketplace and at least be there so that when we finally get full service again, we’re already top of mind.”
Waring admits it’s been tough to stay open.
“Quite honestly, if it wasn’t for the subsidies that we’ve been getting for both rent and for wage subsidies, we wouldn’t be around. Plain and simple. It’s barely enough,” he said.
Justin Tisdall with Juke Fried Chicken and Chickadee in Vancouver is also relying heavily on take-out and urges British Columbians to support their favourite restaurants when they can.
“Many of us are making the right decisions to keep the public safe, keep our staff safe. If you can support that, I think you’re putting your money in a really good place,” he said.
Related article: Indoor dining restrictions to be extended across B.C.
Tisdall is asking for support and patience.
“If you’re going out and doing take-out be kind. Staff are working really hard under a lot of pressure … they have a lot of new service standard they have to make [and COVID] protocols,” he said, noting abuse against staff is becoming more common.
“I don’t think it’s fair for the restaurant … for my staff to have to deal with that. But unfortunately, that’s the case. So, be kind. Be thoughtful,” Tisdall said.
Health Minister Adrian Dix says there has been no “formal” decision on whether or not the current ban on indoor dining is going to be extended. But he admits, it wouldn’t surprise him if it happened.
“The situation remains very serious, we’re seeing some effects from it but we need to keep doubling down on ensuring physical distancing.”
Dix adds meetings with the Restaurant and FoodServices Association and the province is continuing.
-With files from Nikitha Martins and Jonathan Szekeres