Small businesses in 100 Mile House have had to make all sorts of changes in the time of COVID-19, including the Chartreuse Moose.
Morris Neufeld has owned the Chartreuse Moose for close to 17 years now and has been in the 100 Mile House community for 20 since he came up from the coast. As a cappuccino bar and bistro, they’re known for their coffee and food, all done on-site Neufeld remarked. They’ve been able to grow continuously through the years thanks to the support of people in the 100 Mile community.
Neufeld said that, since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, the Chartreuse Moose has never closed but instead moved to offer takeout only, which was a definite hit to their business. This 75 per cent loss of revenue is only compounded by the fact that recently the community has been weathering the effects of mill closures and other signs of economic slowdown in the area, he says.
“People are scared out there so a lot of them are being cautious about when they go out,” Neufeld said, adding that people are watching their wallets closely during this uncertainty.
He’s eager to go back to being able to have customers relax in their bistro and eat there but said he’s making no plans to do so until the provincial government publishes guidelines on how to do that. Neufeld said their plan is supposed to be announced sometime in early May. He guesses that reduced seating of some kind will be required but said that until they see what the government comes up with, he can’t make conclusive plans.
“The wage subsidy has helped up to keep our main employees going and keep the business open, which is a great help,” Neufeld said.
Looking to the future, Neufeld is worried about the long term economic impacts this shutdown will have for 100 Mile House. Summer, for his business and others, tends to be the busiest time of the year and it’s now an open question on whether or not tourism will be big in the Cariboo this year.
Federally, he feels that Ottawa has done a good job, overall, supporting small business during this time but is worried that Victoria is not aware of the strain this puts on small towns already suffering from an economic downturn.
“There’s a lot of questions out there right now and not many answers,” Neufeld said, observing some businesses may be unable to reopen when this is all done.