PART I: Businesses impacted by shutdowns

Local restaurant owner: ‘This is so bad for us’

If local businesses weren’t already devastated by the four-week provincial shutdowns announced on Dec. 8, 2020, the two-week extension until Jan. 21 is sure to be a huge blow, both financially and mentally.

“This is so bad for us,” said Ishara Dilan, who owns Ranchers Castle Steak House with his wife Ana Morar.

READ MORE: Kenney extends COVID-19 restrictions until Jan. 21

Dilan adds that as a restaurant with a more sit-down menu, they’re in a really bad situation.

Although they are still taking orders for delivery and pick up, steak isn’t something people tend to think of ordering and eating at home, like pizza or other more traditional take out foods, he says.

Dilan also says eating at home is just not the same experience as dining out at a family restaurant like Ranchers.

And what money they’re able to bring in from the orders they are receiving isn’t enough to support them.

Before the shutdowns, they could bring in $2,600 a day, and now they aren’t even making $400 a day, he says.

Considering their currently reduced income, and the fact that government supports are based on a percentage of their income from the same month last year, and January is already a typically slow time for the restaurant, they are hard-pressed to pay their rent.

Because of being closed, they are working alone without any staff, as well as having their three-month-old daughter to care for.

At the other three Rancher’s locations, it’s the same story — only the partner-owners are working.

“We can’t afford staff at all right now.”

It’s not a question if they can hold on for another two weeks until they hope to open fully for customers again — they can’t afford to close permanently as they have to make a living.

“They’re making decisions without thinking,” said Dilan.

He says there’s no point in making restaurants like his close, that were following all of the guidelines and keeping customers physically distanced, when people are still able to pack into malls.

“If you close restaurants, you have to close everything or else there’s no point; the numbers won’t go down.”

He’s also sympathetic to hair salons, and says they should be able to be open for single appointments.

“It makes no sense … there’s no traffic there.”

As an alterations shop, Amber Yuzwak of Amber’s Alterations says her business hasn’t been affected much by the restrictions.

December and January are also typically slow months anyways, as people tend to spend money on gifts for others instead of things for themselves, she says.

Retails businesses are limited to 15 per cent capacity, but she usually only has one or two people in the shop at a time anyways.

Although it’s been a bit of a whirlwind opening a physical storefront in a pandemic year, her business has actually done better this year than before.

She used to do custom pieces, such as dance costumes, from her home, but moved into her shop in February, 2020, right before COVID-19 hit.

However, despite the pandemic, switching to a storefront location and alterations and mending, her business has grown.

And as dance recitals were cancelled along with everything else, changing the bread-and-butter of her business came at the right time.

“It was interestingly, not a terrible thing,” she said.

That’s not to say it hasn’t been an emotional ride, however.

Restrictions had been relaxed for a time in the fall, until the end of November when cases began to rise and public health orders and restrictions began to tighten up again.

“I felt like things were almost back to normal … I was really disappointed.”

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