Winnipeg restaurants have been through the wringer over the last few months, but the worst might be yet to come.
Cool weather over the long weekend set the scene for empty patios across the city following a busy summer for outdoor seating areas.
Many restaurants are already seeing dips in sales, like Silver Heights Restaurant on Portage Avenue. The owners have begun forecasting how much of a hit their business will take during the winter months.
“The patio was good for about 30 per cent of our business because that was actually the only thing that was strong with people that didn’t want to go inside, so with no patio we know we’re going to be down 20 to 25 per cent,” says Silver Heights owner Tony Siwicki.
Siwicki says the drop in patio traffic will make much more of a difference this year with indoor seating restrictions still in effect.
“Whether it’s 100 per cent you’re allowed but with the physical distancing you’re down to 50 per cent, even on the patios and the dining room and lounge, you’re working at half of what you should be doing.”
At Bar Italia on Corydon Avenue, staff have already begun preparing for the end of patio season.
“Obviously it’s going to reduce us by about 70 seats, meaning all of our outdoor seating would be gone and we’ll have to rely on the indoors but it’s winter and that happens every year. With the social distancing, I definitely have less clients inside,” said managing partner Rhea Collison.
Bar Italia is also in the process of making some changes to its opening hours in an effort to cushion the losses.
“We’re looking at doing breakfast inside starting at 8 a.m. This way we can put more people in the building and extend our sales revenue,” says Collison.
Several restaurant owners told Global News they expect revenue to be impacted well into the new year.
“With going into our busy season, which is normally October, November, December, we already have cancellations for Christmas parties, birthdays, anniversaries — anything that was even 20 people, they’re still kind of iffy,” says Siwicki.
“Hopefully we’ll just have to get through. There’s not really any other way of looking at it — sales will be down for sure,” said Collison.
There’s been no word from the provincial government on when indoor seating restrictions could be lifted.
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