100 Mile House restaurants already hurting from the COVID-19 pandemic are bracing for even tougher times following further restrictions that prohibit in-person dining at all restaurants in B.C. until at least April 19.
Following a spike in COVID-19 cases in B.C., Dr. Bonnie Henry last week announced several new protocols to curb the spread of the virus. Only patio dining, takeout and delivery are allowed for restaurants, breweries and pubs, provided they have COVID-19 safety protocols in place.
“If not for the deck, right now we’d have zero seating,” said Keith Jackson, owner of Jackson’s Social Club and Brewhouse. “So once we heard about the regulations we just wrapped it in poly and moved all the furniture outside which is kind of working, but our sales are way down.”
The new restrictions have put Jackson in a tight spot as he’s struggling to pay the bills because of his pub’s high overhead and his liquor license.
In an effort to boost capacity, he’s in the process of licensing his parking lot to extend his seating outside but said he’s finding it’s not that simple.
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Jackson said he plans to wait until the end of the month to see how things shake out before making any further changes.
Over at the Chartreuse Moose, manager Mary LePointe said they’re lucky the weather has begun to change as they shift to takeout, curbside pickup and outdoor dining outside their cafe on Birch Avenue.
Customers can either phone in their orders via 250-395-4644, by using the cafe’s app or coming in for takeout.
She said they have done a bit better than most places in town because people always seem to want coffee, with most customers taking it to go right now.
While the new restrictions have forced her to reduce her staff, the cafe has been fairly busy, thanks to the Easter weekend.
“Last year when the first lockdown happened, everyone was in lockdown so business was very quiet. We re-opened for dine-in after the May long weekend and things slowly picked up but we weren’t running at our normal level of business because we weren’t getting American or international tourists,” LePointe said.
LePointe said she’s concerned that the restrictions will last longer than three weeks and that COVID-19 and mask-wearing will likely be around until at least 2022.
However, she said she has noticed some customers coming from other parts of B.C. are not following individual health regulations.
Wild Horse Cafe ower Allan Roberts said they’re complying with the new health regulations even though it affects the cafe’s atmosphere.
Cafes should be somewhere you go to sit down and visit with people while enjoying tasty food, he added.
“I prefer if we could be inside so we could do what we do best, but I’m surprised by how well takeout is doing,” Roberts said. He praised his clientele for helping to keep them open, saying it seems like the community knows how much restaurants are hurting right now and are making the conscious choice to eat out and support them.
Jackson said he also has a great loyal clientele and with all the recent arrivals from the Lower Mainland, he feels his brewery will be very busy, once he’s able to fully reopen.
Craft breweries have taken off across the Lower Mainland, he said, and IPAs are popular among newcomers to the area.
“Now we’re getting people from Chilliwack, Kamloops, Kelowna and Vancouver and they understand what we’re doing which is kind of working in our favour.”