As Covid restrictions have come and gone and changed over the course of the pandemic, restaurants are among the businesses that have had to deal with the most changes, from a ban on indoor dining to restrictions on the number of people who could dine together, to changing masking requirements, to the current requirement for proof of vaccination.
Local restaurants have seen a drastic change in sales in a short amount of time due to the changing regulations.
Dan Davidson, owner of Red Barn Family Restaurant & Dano’s Lounge in Moosomin says his business in the last two years has not been what he usually expects it to be.
“It’s been alright, our sales are definitely down from what they have been in 2019 but we’re still doing alright. Every time there are restrictions, it definitely affects our sales. July 12th I believe the restrictions were lifted and the next day, sales popped up quite a bit,” he says.
The latest Covid restrictions began on October 1st. The day of the new restrictions, Davidson says he immediately saw the drop in business.
“Thursday was busy and then when we had to start asking for proof of vaccination on Friday, then sales quickly went down. So restrictions have proven to really affect sales. ”
Davidson says the most challenging part about adapting to the restrictions is having to deal with the drop in sales.
“The biggest thing would be sales drop. We managed to still keep all of our staff which is a good thing. But managing how long the mandate is going to last and when to schedule staff based on how busy it will be is hard, but we’ve managed.”
With Christmas approaching, Davidson says he’s not sure what to expect of how business will be.
“We’re trying to read it day by day, week by week but I truly don’t know what it will be like. We have seen a bit of a bump lately, for whatever reason that may be. More people may have become vaccinated, more people may have wanted to get out. I’m not exactly sure why, but our sales bumped up a little. It’s hard to say. Maybe it will pick up even more or maybe it will stay the same. January, February and March is our quiet season so we just don’t know how quiet it will be,” Davidson says.
“The slight bump in daily sales from the reports show that it’s been a bit higher than what we were averaging three weeks prior.”
Other factors contribute to fluctuations in the Red Barn’s business.
“The mine expansion and what they are doing, affects our sales drastically, probably moreso than anything else.
“If the mine brings in a lot of people to the area and town, of course they have to eat out, and if the hotels are busy then it definitely benefits us. The hotels this year have been busy. I don’t know what it’s projected to be in the next couple of months but so far it’s been pretty good.”
Supply chain issues during the holiday season are a concern for Davidson.
“Paper products are slow so that means an affect on take out packaging. If you watch the news you will see that food has gone up drastically. I mean if you look at fresh ribeyes for us, last week I was paying double the price that I was paying a couple of months ago. We had to change some products, we’re having to source different things because of product outages. I believe everyone in Canada is running into supply chain issues.”
He says prices for fresh produce have also increased because of the low quality of crops, but the high demand for them.
“There’s been issues with produce as well. Lettuce’s are ultimately high right now. It’s the supply and demand for everything, the supply is not great and if the quality is not great, then the prices are high. The condition of where food is right now is the same thing as for produce, it’s had a tough six months and now it’s just extremely high.”
“The quality of produce has gone down so obviously the product has gone up because there’s also not that much product available either. But there’s a high demand for it, so the prices are very high.”
Davidson says his hopes for the future of the business is to eventually have sales go back to what they were prior to 2020.
Sierra D'Souza Butts, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The World-Spectator