Canadian restaurateurs band together in quest for relief from government
HALIFAX -- Restaurants across the country and in the Maritimes are feeling the financial impacts of COVID-19.
Many are relying on delivery and takeout orders to survive, while others have closed altogether.
Now, a new campaign is calling on the federal and provincial governments to help restaurants reopen following the pandemic.
OneTable is a national initiative created by chefs and restaurateurs that are banding together online in an attempt to get the attention of the federal government.
“We can’t defer all of the charges and all of the expenses that we are currently burdened with for an indefinite period of time and then just simply expect to open the doors and go back to normal,” says Craig Flinn, a chef and co-owner of Chives Canadian Bistro and Two Doors Down in Halifax.
The OneTable initiative is asking for three things: immediate relief, immediate protection and help to reopen and rehire.
“Now is the time to start to look at one of the largest industries, the largest employers in this country, being food service and hospitality, and understand that we cannot get back open without a significant plan and help from the federal and provincial governments,” says Flinn.
“It just isn’t going to happen and now is the time to really start getting an action in place and sitting down at that one table and talking this through.”
Flinn closed his restaurants the day before it became mandatory for eateries to stop offering eat-in dining service in Nova Scotia.
“My intention at the time was for my staff and public safety and to do my absolute upmost to slow the spread of the virus,” says Flinn.
“My staff has been incredibly supportive of the decisions that I’ve made and they are the ones who have lost everything. They are sitting at home, they can’t get back to work, and they don’t know when they are going to get back to work. It’s a very frightening time for them.”
During the closure, Flinn and his wife have both been working from home and taking care of their son.
“It’s lovely on one hand to be able to spend time together and to try and enjoy this time as best you can,” says Flinn.
“But I am fully aware of the responsibilities I have to 90 employees and making the best decisions that I possibly can to make sure that we get up and running when that time comes.”