Saskatchewan’s hospitality industry is preparing for what could be a very gloomy season for the sector, both in terms of weather and business.
Even though the province’s reopen plan has worked well so far for many restaurants, the industry is bracing for the cold as they tackle trying to operate in the winter under COVID-19 pandemic regulations.
With many patios forced to close, Saskatoon’s Taste Restaurant Group generally seats fewer customers when the mercury drops meaning a drop in business.
Carmen Hamm and her team are making changes in order to maximize indoor space.
“I finally personally resigned myself that we need to put barriers in the restaurants. I was hoping that we’d see the light at the end of the tunnel and not have to have that expenditure,” she said, adding it would take thousands of dollars to outfit the four restaurants run by the group.
Industry leaders are concerned about this quarter, noting conventions and holiday parties that generally take place this time of year will be scrapped.
Saskatchewan Hotel and Hospitality Association said no one was under the illusion patios would be available through the winter and say restaurateurs and hotel owners are in uncharted waters.
“We don’t know what buying patterns are for a culture, for a civilization when you’re in a lockdown. So it will be interesting to see what happens,” president and CEO Jim Bence told Global News.
Coronavirus: Saskatchewan might implement ‘industry-specific’ restrictions if COVID-19 cases continue increasing
He said hotels and restaurants are looking to target snowbirds who haven’t flown south this winter, hoping they spend their disposable income travelling Saskatchewan.
The number of cases has risen across the province and is causing some concern.
A Canadian Federation of Independent Business survey found more than half of Saskatchewan businesses don’t think they could survive a second wave.
Hamm added restaurants have had to change service and safety measures to ensure they can stay open and hopes support for local restaurants remains strong despite those measures and frigid conditions.
“We really want people to still have that same level of experience and that going out to eat is still special and not stressful as opposed to choosing to cook at home or order in,” she said.
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