3 Victoria restaurants share how they are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic
VICTORIA -- Restaurants have taken a huge hit during the pandemic. Most are hanging on by a thread while others are only getting by thanks to government support. At the same time, a new restaurant just opened for business in Victoria’s Chinatown last week.
This is the story of how three eateries are trying to find a way to survive the COVID-19 pandemic in Victoria.
Chad Rennie just opened Rain Dogs Wine Bar in Victoria’s Chinatown, and it’s something he’s always dreamed of doing.
“We opened last Thursday, on the 10th,” said Rennie.
He opened his wine bar restaurant, while many other eateries around the city are struggling to survive.
“It was a good time for me to invest,” said Rennie. “I felt like it was a good time for the city too.”
With people not able to travel, Rennie says many are rediscovering their own city and the first week of business has been good.
“We were probably three-quarters full our first night and full both Friday and Saturday night,” he said. “As full as we can be, of course, with COVID protocols in place.”
Just around the block on Yates Street is Hey Happy, a local cafe. It got its start six years ago.
“We were able to expand because we’ve done really well in our first six years,” said Rob Kettner, owner of Hey Happy. “It feels like we’re a victim of our success I guess.”
Hey Happy had a great first six-years in business. Last year, Kettner decided to expand his coffee shop. He built a full kitchen and grew its footprint. Then COVID hit.
“We’re losing a ton on money right now,” said Kettner.
While other restaurants are able to receive government money for wage subsides, he can’t. It’s all because the numbers are calculated on last year’s sales. But this year, his business is completely different and last year's numbers don’t reflect the current situation.
“Everybody else that is in the same position as us is getting the highest amount of wage subsides and it’s keeping them going,” said Kettner. “Unfortunately, we are losing a lot of money every month.”
The café is seeing losses that can’t be sustained.
Meanwhile, on Broad Street, CTV News spoke with Solomon Siegel, owner of Pagliacci’s.
“We have people that have been eating at this restaurant since before I was born,” said Siegel.
Pagliacci’s was opened in 1979. It is a Victoria staple with a dedicated client base spanning more than 40 years. But it, too, is not immune to the virus.
“The current state of things with the last level of lockdown has really decimated our business,” said Siegel.
He went on to say that business is down around 50 per cent, but a few factors have kept them alive.
Takeout orders from those long-time supporters and the closure of Broad Street to traffic this summer allowed the restaurant to expand its seating capacity during Victoria’s warmer months. It also qualified for government supplements.
“They’ve allowed us to keep our staff employed,” said Siegel. “They’ve allowed us to be here for our guests and to ensure that we are going to be here for another 42 years, for our guests.”
While the three restaurants cater to different tastes, each is trying to survive in Victoria during truly uncertain times.