COVID-19: Winnipeg businesses rushing to get ready for Saturday reopening

Manitoba businesses are working around the clock in order to get ready to reopen in time for the weekend.

On Friday, it was all hands on deck at Brazen Hall Kitchen and Brewery with less than 24 hours before the patio doors would open once again to customers.

Read more: Restaurants, bars to open, gathering sizes to increase this weekend under Manitoba reopening plan

“I’m so excited to see my friends,” said Brazen Hall’s president and chieftain, Kristjan Kristjansson.

Kristjansson and his team are working to build a brand new outdoor beer garden instead of opening their building doors.

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Manitoba announces move to 1st step of COVID-19 reopening 1 week ahead of schedule

“We aren’t opening up the restaurant because 25 per cent (capacity) doesn’t make sense for us,” he said. “But we are doing a 200-person beer garden for our brewery business. It’s a chance to keep our people working and have some fun and get Manitobans out.”

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Under new public health orders which take effect Saturday at 12:01 a.m. restaurants can re-open to both indoor and outdoor dining with restrictions.

The updated public health orders say restaurants and bars can open at 25 per cent capacity indoors, and 50 per cent capacity for outdoor dining. Those dining indoors must be from the same household, but those rules will be waived if all patrons at the table are fully vaccinated.

Read more: COVID-19: Manitoba offers wage subsidy to encourage hiring vaccinated employees

Outdoor dining at bars and restaurants will see tables limited to a maximum of eight patrons, all of whom can be from different households, regardless of immunization status.

Brazen Hall’s first outdoor space will be able to eventually hold 200 people but under the current order will open to just 100 customers this weekend.

“I think if (people) show up it will be spectacular to have 50 per cent, so 100, to start and as it opens up more to get to 200 people.” Kristjansson said. (And eventually) 200 inside this building and 94 on the other (patio). What a summer! Get back to our cabins, boating with our friends… how about a hug.”

Brazen Hall is setting up an outdoor beer garden. Randall Paull/Global News

It seems outdoor temporary patios are going to be another big boost many restaurants are looking for this summer.

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Last year, there were 49 temporary patio permits issued by the City of Winnipeg. So far in 2021, there have been 99, according to a city spokesperson.

Kristjansson’s restaurant will eventually have two patios built and he hopes it will help after a long few months of penny pinching and financial struggles.

Read more: Manitoba launches COVID-19 reopening plan

“We’ve lost a lot of money,” he said. “We’ve lost 60 of our 80 employees. I would say majority moved on to new industries, so we’re starting all over. We’ve taken a financial beating like all other businesses. It’s been really sad.”

But the community has stepped up. When the reopening plans were announced Wednesday it didn’t leave Kristjansson and his team with much time or money to buy what they would need in time.

“Buying furniture today is pretty well impossible. There isn’t any available,” he said. “(Normally) we’d build some really cool stuff but we are saving our pennies.”

Staff at Brazen Hall get ready for opening day Saturday. Randall Paull/Global News

It’s when they had the idea to reach out to the community.

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His team asked for people to lend them used picnic tables for the season. In return, they would get a $25 gift card and the table would be reserved for them all summer with just one hour’s notice.

Read more: Manitoba moving from red to orange on COVID-19 response system

“I keep getting phone calls saying these tables are coming and that’s so exciting. I think we’re at 15 or 20,” he said.

“I’m the last guy that wants that kind of help, but I needed it and to have a city willing to do what it’s doing is a beautiful thing.”

For now he said he is emotional at the outpouring of support and just excited to get back to seeing and serving Winnipeggers.

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