The Saultites are encouraged to go out and enjoy a meal at local restaurants, especially those that are locally owned.
From August 28 to 30, “Canada United” branded, described as a national movement to show some love to local businesses.
“We strongly encourage the community to support our local restaurateurs… this weekend is (the local version of) Canada United, a great opportunity to really show how important our local business community is. It’s a weekend where we really want to show and showcase what small business is for our community, ”said Rory Ring, of Sault Ste. Marie, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, speaking to SooToday.
The need to support local restaurants is real.
“In 2019, the restaurant business generated over $ 93 billion in sales (nationwide) and was on track to surpass $ 100 billion in sales in 2021. Due to the pandemic, however, the industry restaurant industry could now lose between $ 21.7 billion and $ 44.8 billion in annual sales. this year, ”according to a Restaurants Canada press release released Thursday.
Ring said it was also important to note that the local outlets of the big restaurant chains (like McDonald’s and Tim Hortons, for example) are owned by local franchisees and create local jobs, and therefore also worthy of a local customer support.
“Companies really had to pivot. The challenge for us in Sault Ste. Marie and northern Ontario is that fall is approaching and the City has already advised that the patios should be closed at the end of September. We can have snow and we have to make sure the City has the capacity to do the snow removal to keep our sidewalks safe, so that’s another really big challenge when you have restaurants that will be limited in terms of catering. indoors (due to COVID restrictions). “
With that, Ring said, “delivery will be a big part of how businesses will have to pivot. We are trying to make sure there will be a way for local shopping and local delivery (of food orders from restaurants). We have local delivery companies and a taxi company that had to switch to that delivery mode… so people could have dinner at home. This will be a big part of what’s going to happen during the winter months until we can get back to when we can dine out.
“We were pretty nervous (when the province’s COVID-19 shutdown came in March),” said Jane McGoldrick, owner / operator of East Street Pizza.
“We didn’t know what was going to happen, if we were going to be able to stay open or close like other restaurants in town, and we were a new business that had just opened in October. It was a pretty scary situation for me.
“Fortunately, they allowed the take out restaurants to stay open so we didn’t have to close, so we were lucky in this whole ordeal. Our dining room was closed, but we are mostly take out anyway, with a nice little dining area, so it didn’t affect us too much.
McGoldrick said she was happy to move forward with her patio plans at East Street Pizza when the province allowed the patios to open, enjoying an abundance of warm, rainless weather this summer.
“We were able to retain all of our employees (unlike other restaurants),” said McGoldrick, with seven employees at East Street Pizza.
McGoldrick said she was able to take advantage of the federal government’s COVID assistance.
“We are concerned, as cold and flu season approaches, about COVID which we also need to worry about, worried about a sudden increase in cases and what that would mean for the rest of Ontario and Canada, but I hope people still choose to spend the money with small business. We are resilient at the best of times, but this COVID is unprecedented. We had to reinvent ourselves in a few weeks, if not a few days.
McGoldrick said she knows business owners who have gone completely out of business, tired of the challenges small business owners face at the best of times and not ready to adapt to COVID measures.
“It has just been extremely difficult, but we’re very lucky and lucky to have the space that we have and that we have the take-out business that we have. We spent money advertising our take out food, refining this process with online ordering. I don’t mean it was easy but it was easier for us. I can’t imagine what the big food establishments (went through)… I think the stimulus funding the government gave us was generous but it wasn’t enough and we have another winter coming and people are nervous.
“I think the light at the end of the tunnel through all of this is that people really see firsthand the importance of small businesses and the value they add to the community. The best advice I can give to anyone is to stick together, be kind to each other, and “support the local”. Come see us, we love to see you, we love to indulge you, be a part of our lives and we will get on together, ”said McGoldrick.
The COVID shutdown in March came as a shock to John Armstrong, just six weeks after officially opening the doors as the new owner / operator of local iconic Ernie’s cafe.
“The day this happened, I was told that whoever is there eating should go out. I was open for an hour that day.
Armstrong shut Ernie’s doors during the worst of COVID, not focusing on take-out but rolling up his sleeves and working as a laborer north of the Sault to pay his bills, suddenly finding himself as an employee instead of ‘An employer.
He said he was not eligible for COVID assistance from the federal government.
“I was in the worst possible position you could think of… it just came out of nowhere and I thought ‘what am I going to do?’ but it just made me work harder to keep this business going.
“I opened a second time (after the COVID restrictions eased) but opened something I was even more proud of,” Armstrong saying he buys as much as he can from local suppliers of food items for his menu, as well as local lumber suppliers when he was allowed to build and open a patio.
Now reopened with a staff of eight, Armstrong said business at Ernie’s was good.
Realizing that he will have to dismantle his patio soon, Armstrong said he would educate customers on COVID precautions, hoping every Ernie’s seat will be filled with customers.
“Come and forget about it (COVID) for a few hours… come and have coffee, fries or the most extravagant plate we have,” he said of Canada United’s upcoming weekend.