'It's complete decimation': Food service industry feeling pressure of another shutdown

The food service industry is facing more uncertainty and hardship amid the latest COVID-19 shutdown.

According to the not-for-profit association Restaurants Canada said 100,000 jobs have been lost in Ontario's food service industry since the pandemic began. The association is now calling on the province to pick up the $100 million dollar tab for the shutdowns.

Restaurants were forced to close for both indoor and outdoor dining under the latest province-wide shutdown.

“It’s complete decimation,” said Adam Cole, the operator of both Prohibition Warehouse and Kentucky Bourbon in Waterloo. “You're down to 10 per cent of what it would have been, especially with this nice weather.”

Cole said staff just built a new patio at Prohibition.

“We got two days out of it. Last Thursday and last Friday,”Cole said.

Moose Winooski’s in Kitchener is also expanding. A crew could be seen putting up a new tent on Wednesday. Once complete up to 80 people will be able to dine underneath it.

“We were planning on having it ready for this weekend,” said Bill Siegfried, the VP of operations at Moose Winooski’s.

In mid-March, when restaurants were allowed 50 per cent capacity plus outdoor dining, Siegfried said 65 people were brought back to work, but that didn’t last.

“All of them had to be laid off again,” Siegfried said.

For many staff members, it was not the first time being laid off. Melissa Fair has worked in the industry for a decade. She was let go three times from Moose Winooski's.

Fair said it is draining mentally and emotionally and said the day she heard she was let go again was especially hard.

“Yeah I cried. and I’m not an emotional person. Like I’m always a happy, bubbly person,” said Fair.

Some are still optimistic for the rest of the spring and summer season.

“Hopefully will be brought back for some patio season eventually,” Fair said.

Others in the industry share that same feeling of hope for the future.

“Hopefully this lockdown is going to be the last and we can start building back to some sort of normalcy,” said Siegfried.

Many restaurants are hoping the province loosens restrictions and allows patios to reopen to help keep them afloat.