Top News

Manitoba's restaurants being starved out, need financial help to thwart mass closures: survey

MRFA executive director Shaun Jeffrey
MRFA executive director Shaun Jeffrey

A new survey by The Manitoba Restaurant and Foodservices Association suggests the industry is starving for financial help to stave off mass closures.

The recent survey of its members indicated that 66% of respondents are spending at least $2,000 per month on personal protective equipment supplies while operating at less than 40% of their pre-pandemic sales.

Nearly four-in-five restaurants surveyed said their rising debt loads top at least $20,000, which 28% of them with outstanding debts in the $40,000-$80,000.

Citing a bleak financial situation for much of the foodservice industry, the association is initiating the #savembrestaurants campaign to ask Manitobans for their help. In return, restaurants who bring awareness to the challenges facing the sector will get free face masks.

“With many restaurants facing detrimental increases in debt load, we need sector-specific assistance now… or we face significant losses as restaurants start to default on these excessive and mounting debt levels,” said Shaun  Jeffrey, Executive Director of the MRFA, in a release on Thursday. “We now need Manitoban’s including foodservice workers, to help us  engage the government to create these programs to save our industry, we need you now more than ever.”

The results of the survey are being passed on to the province.

Those results show that the majority of restaurants surveyed since the Winnipeg metropolitan region was elevated to Orange have lost between 20-60% of their revenues. One-in-four restaurants have lost 60% or more.

That number is buoyed by a drop in the number of diners, with 33.3% saying they lost between 40-60% of their guest attendance, while 30.5% say they’ve shed 60% or more.

The MRFA represents 400 restaurant members and 100 associate members.

Shuttered restraunteurs speak out

Several of the 15 restaurants that hold an Entertainment Facility License in the hospitality industry have penned a letter to Premier Brian Pallister, Dr. Brent Roussin and the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba.

They are proposing a fair and even playing field for all establishments under that license after they feel they have been unduly singled out for this round of closures.

“Many beverage rooms, restaurants, lounges, taverns and other pubs operating under different licenses conduct their businesses in the very much the same way we do in that our kitchens are staffed, we offer full menus and provide table service,” the letter, sent last week, said. “Since the new measures for hours of operation were introduced, we have conducted business essentially as restaurants and believe this has been overlooked in the decision-making process.”

Signed by the owners of Shannon’s Irish Pub & Eatery, The King’s Head Pub & Eatery, Goodwill Social Club and others, the closed venues say they feel public concerns about late-night bar-hopping were addressed in time changes already handed down by government.

“We’re all in the same boat,” said Cam Loeppky, owner of Goodwill. “It’s everyone sink or swim. I’m friends with most of those people … I visit their establishments, they visit our establishment. It’s a small city, you’ve got to support everyone, you know, especially the independents.”

The restaurants say their decision by public health has created great concern with the lack of support in providing an “equal playing field,” putting the future of local and long-standing establishments in jeopardy.

“Since we have been mandated to close our doors, we are concerned that we will have to lay off our staff, lose a percentage of our customer base and deplete our savings merely based on the terms of our licenses and not on our compliance with health standards and protocols set by the province,” the restaurants said.

“We ask that you allow us a fair and equal opportunity to reopen and avoid the loss of staff, income, patrons and ultimately our businesses and livelihoods.”

[email protected]

Twitter: @scottbilleck

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

Did this story inform or enhance your perspective on this subject?
1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

Recent Stories