Annie Mae's restaurant in Mirror
Photo from Facebook

Some central Alberta restaurant owners feel punished for obeying COVID rules

Not fair some eateries obeying regulations are losing business, says restaurant owner

Mirror restaurant owner Annie Mae is finding all of the attention given to other eateries that are publicly breaking COVID-19 health regulations a little tough to swallow.

Mae’s Kitchen has been open since the first lockdown ended last May and Mae has managed to keep her five staff working while focusing on takeout orders.

Meanwhile, the nearby Whistle Stop Cafe has gotten lots of media attention and drawn a steady stream of supporters after owner Christopher Scott publicly refused to follow Alberta Health Service rules against sit-down dining.

“They are not the only restaurant in the area,” said Mae, who opened Mae’s three years ago. “There are people who are following the rules and still have their staff working. What about them poor people?”

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Mae said it is not fair to the numerous other small restaurants, cafes and diners in the area who are losing customers to businesses that are ignoring COVID-related health regulations.

She has been getting by because the same people who have supported her for years are coming back for takeout.

“The community is behind people who help the community,” she said.

“We had a drop in business a bit when we first closed (in March 2020). When we opened up, we tripled our business.

“Right now, we’re doing about what you would do on a quiet day. But we’re still able to make our wages, make all our payments and pay our bills.”

Despite the hardships health measures have caused, Mae supports the health regulations.

“I know people who have died,” she said. A local senior man, weakened by COVID fell and passed away from his injuries. While he may not be officially a COVID statistic, the virus led to his death, she believes.

As well, a niece has yet to regain her sense of smell after battling the virus.

In Alix, Sally’s Kitchen owner Barb Gilliat says many restaurant owners share Mae’s concerns.

“I do feel it’s not really fair that you’re being punished for following the rules,” said Gilliat. “That’s kind of how it’s turning out.”

Gilliat and her staff have been dramatically affected by health restrictions and closure regulations. She had to reduce her payroll from 18 staff to three during the first lockdown and has since managed to bring back seven.

If health restrictions on sit-down dining are relaxed — as the province has said could happen as early as Monday — she will bring back her remaining staff.

While Whistle Stop supporters have commented in droves on his Facebook page there are others who are not happy with what he is doing, she said.

“There’s a lot of people really upset with it too. There are two sides to the story.”



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

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