On Wednesday of this week, the Hintonburg Public House posted this message to Instagram: “Never in the 9 years have we ever served no one when open for dine-in.”
Like most restaurants in the city, they have been hit hard by the pandemic. Now, the cooler temperatures are taking their toll.
“I put my heart on my sleeve and I threw it out there on Instagram,” said Hintonburg Public House owner Summer Baird. “I think and everyone’s been very supportive I don’t think I’ve had a post that’s been this popular.
“The government is pushing everyone to stay at home and the numbers in Ottawa are out of control. I understand and unfortunately it was raining last night so we did not have our patio open.”
Terry Fitzpatrick, the co-owner of Petit Bill's Bistro, said business had been recovering up until the end of September, then government support programs either ended or changed.
“Business was great up until Oct. 1,” Fitzpatrick said. “What everyone seems to forget is CERB stopped, rent relief stopped, the payroll subsidy has been cut into a third, so less money to go around and less to go out.”
Many restaurant-goers expressed misgivings about heading indoors to enjoy a meal, but some feel the restaurants are doing everything they can to keep customers safe.
Dena Macleod thinks restaurants are trying to do their best in an evolving landscape and trying to do their best for their staff and for their customers.
“Obviously there is only so much you can do, you have to realize nothing is going to be 100 per cent,” Macleod said. “But I feel that they have tried to take due care as best they can”
“I think that this pandemic is real but I think we also have to live we can’t live in fear so I take the precautions and I wear the mask and I keep my distance,” Priscilla Yoyotte said. “But as long as I do that I’m comfortable.”
The head of the Wellington West BIA, Dennis Van Staalduinen, thinks businesses need stability and clarity from government while trying to deal with the pandemic and its fallout. He is frustrated by the constantly changing messages and standards that business have been doing their best to adapt to.
“It breaks my heart we have 80 restaurants up and down Wellington Street West and they are all going through the same thing,” Van Staalduinen said. “It’s time to say: let’s have an aid package just to help the businesses survive get through this, but let’s all get through this together and make sure the society we have at the other end is one we want to be in.”