The Forest Grove Royal Canadian Legion Branch 261 wants everyone to know it’s open for business.
Legion president Wendy Clarke said the organization is hurting as a result of COVID-19 and is appealing to the public to come in or take out meals from its new menu. The Legion will be open Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 4-7 p.m. and will stay open longer if needed.
The Legion can hold up to 38 people at one time with social distancing in place and a special door for takeout so nobody has to come inside. However, non-members must come with a member during the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the number of restrictions and the fact Legion members can’t be turned away. The Forest Grove branch has a membership base of between 120 and 174.
“We don’t have the people coming in and I understand it’s really difficult because you have to come in with a member,” Clarke said. “We’re trying to get the information out there that we are open. We’ve really tried to set it up and arrange it so you’re self-distancing so you feel comfortable but you can still talk to people across from you. Because we are such a small community just about everybody who comes in here knows everybody.”
The Legion is losing about $500 a month after expenses, which include Hydro and insurance costs to stay open, Clarke said. Although the Legion doesn’t have a mortgage, insurance is about $426 every month, Hydro is $500 and there are additional costs for things like snowplowing. The Legion had previously been able to access gaming grants but those have been limited or non-existent this year.
It is also losing money because it can’t hold events anymore, such as bingo.
“It all adds up,” Clarke said, especially when they have quiet nights like a recent Wednesday when they only sold one beer, one pop and one water. Two people had meals but there was not even a takeout order.
Although that’s an oddity, Clarke said she hopes it doesn’t become the norm and is appealing to the public to come in. The Legion has been busy using various other grants to update the legion with a new bar and glasswasher and adding a new furnace and air conditioner. Volunteers have also added LED lighting and are also renovating the washroom for people with disabilities.
“Slowly we’re trying to get it updated here,” she said. “All you can do is hope. I get it that people don’t want to drink like they did years ago and that’s good really but if we get the support in the kitchen that will take us a long way.”