Restaurants try to save Mother’s Day business after sudden changes to public health orders

WINNIPEG — New public health orders were handed down from the province Friday evening, and starting Sunday, restaurants in Manitoba will only be able to offer takeout.

The news comes as a huge blow to many restaurants in the province that were gearing up for a busy Mother’s Day.

Jarrett Bargen, manager of Falafel Place on Corydon, said the restaurant is barely hanging on under current health regulations, which allows them to operate at 50 percent capacity.

“Trying to make the bill payments with 50 per cent is very tough, so moving to take out is going to put a lot of strain on our business here,” said Bargen.

Bargen said they were expecting a lot of customers on Sunday for Mother’s Day, had a lot of staff scheduled and a lot of food prepped.

“(The new regulations) changes everything for us, we have to do something with extra food, and again let the people know that they can’t work tomorrow because there’s no work for the staff unfortunately,” said Bargen.

Ravi Dhaliwal, the owner of Cora’s Breakfast and Lunch at Polo Park, said Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year for them.

He said with COVID-19 case numbers rising, he was prepared for the worst but still hoping for the best.

“Knowing it was a possibility with the (new case) numbers being 502, (we gave) everyone a heads up ‘hey we may have to pivot on the fly’ kind of thing. But we had to make sure we ordered enough food just in case we were open for it,” said Dhaliwal.

“It was kind of expected,” said Sophia Norico, a server at Cora’s breakfast and Lunch.

“The cases were getting pretty bad, so when they announced everything, it wasn’t really a surprise anymore.”

The Manitoba Restaurant & Foodservices Association (MRFA) said the restaurant industry has introduced a number of policies and procedures to keep Manitobans safe, and the lack of notice regarding the new regulations is inconsiderate.

“Currently, you can only eat within your own household inside of a restaurant, and those same people are going home now,” said Shaun Jeffrey, Executive Director of MRFA.

“So these decisions, they’re not fact-based, they’re not evidence-based, and to be honest, they don’t make any sense,” he said.

In addition to restaurants, bars, patios, and food courts will be closed for in-person dining, the regulations are expected to expire on May 30th.

Bargen said with a dining room that’s now empty; they’ll be focused on food-to-go.

“Just trying to do some promotions to amp up the takeout and delivery.”

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