The co-owner of one Red Deer restaurant says he wants the government to allow in-person dining again.
Patrick Malkin, co-owner of The Granary Kitchen, said he was frustrated this past Thursday when he learned COVID-19 restrictions, which includes the shutdown of all in-person dining, weren’t going to be lifted yet.
“It was disappointing and almost to the point of discriminatory to be honest. They’re basically saying restaurants are the super spreaders and they’re not. We just want to be able to be open and earn a livelihood,” Malkin said.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced the restrictions won’t yet be eased last week. The measures, put in place more than one month ago, were set to expire Thursday. She did not say how much longer the restrictions will last.
“For brick-and-mortar restaurants especially, our business model isn’t set up to be sustainable in the long-term for takeout and to-go orders,” Malkin said.
The community has rallied around restaurants and provided some support, but these restrictions have been “devastating” for The Granary Kitchen, Malkin added.
“A very high percentage of the sales has dropped off. It’s that way for everybody,” he said.
“I know restaurants, like ours, employ a number of single-parent families. It’s been difficult for everybody to go through Christmas and New Year’s and not have much for income. It’s very difficult.”
Ryan Curtis, owner/operator at Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria, said while it is “disappointing” his business cannot allow in-person dining yet, he understands it’s a complicated situation.
“It is what it is. We’re very fortunate there are federal subsidies to help us out, between wages, rent and such. While it’s not ideal, we’re just trying to make the best of it,” Curtis said, adding he feels bad for the serving staff.
“They don’t have the hours they used to have and the income that they used to have. That’s the hardest part of it for sure.”
Curtis said he feels “extremely fortunate” that the transition to takeout is easier for a pizzeria than many other types of restaurants.
“I feel very bad for other restaurants that have to rethink their entire operations,” he said.
“I commend them for how much work they have to put into that. We’ve been very fortunate for how easy it is to put a pizza in a box. That’s an every day thing for us.”
Even with a smoother transition into delivery-only food, the past couple of months have been tough for the business, Curtis added.
“Since everything closed, things have been bad. January is always a little slow, but things are pretty ugly right now,” he said.