Restaurants are feeling the pinch of the latest wave of the pandemic as the Omicron COVID-19 variant invades the workforce and diners turn away.
John’s Place, a popular breakfast spot on Pandora Avenue, closes Mondays and Tuesdays for the rest of January, citing staff shortages and the need to protect staff health.
This led to a surge of support on Facebook, as customers praised owner John Cantin for keeping his staff safe.
For Jeremy Dewey, owner of the Boston Pizza franchise on Hillside Avenue and Blanshard Street, the latest wave of the virus has been the last nail in the coffin.
He closed the restaurant permanently on Sunday after a 35-year race in which he went from waiter to owner.
“We have tried to navigate through every wave of this global pandemic, public health orders, staff shortages and the overall rising cost of living… without success,” Dewey said in a letter taped to the doors. entry.
“We want to thank our guests, our staff and this wonderful community who have supported us through good times and bad… it’s been a slice.
Cliff Leir, owner of the Fol Epi restaurant, said he only allowed take-out for lunch to help protect staff for the seated dinner service later in the day.
“We have reduced the coffee service so that we can have flexibility,” said Leir. “It’s difficult because the government says the [Omicron] the numbers are much worse than what we know, but they don’t put [restrictions] on us… we’re just going to keep hanging on.
Leir said the traditional slower months after Christmas look even slower in light of the latest wave. “People are starting to be careful before they go out. “
Provincial health worker Dr Bonnie Henry warned businesses last week to prepare for widespread illness among staff, at a time when signs asking for help are found in nearly every restaurant window .
The Indeed jobs website had 165 listings Monday for restaurant workers in the Victoria area, ranging from waiters and baristas to supervisors and managers.
Ian Tostenson, general manager of the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association, said the industry’s biggest concern continues to be the labor shortage. The association says the restaurant industry has lost around 20% of its workforce since the start of COVID-19 – around 40,000 jobs – and is likely to continue to decline.
“The only really positive aspect is that it’s not daylight saving time… it’s the time of year when a lot of restaurants have reduced hours or close for a few weeks to assess, plan,” said Tostenson.
Tostenson said several restaurants are now starting to apply for the federal government’s skilled foreign worker program. It had been on the back burner for much of COVID, but the process is now underway, ensuring many restaurants will have more access to employees during the busiest summer months.