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Okanagan restaurants adjusting hours, menus, temporarily closing to beat the heat

Image Credit: FACEBOOK/OKF Foods

With an unprecedented heat wave rolling across B.C., some Okanagan businesses are adjusting their hours, menus and some are even shutting their doors.

Jeanette Morgan, co-owner of Lake Country’s OKF Grill, said yesterday was their first day offering a temporary heat wave menu featuring salads and wraps in lieu of their popular burgers and fries.

“We don’t have air conditioning inside. The windows and doors are always open and then we have hood vents that just suck all the cold air straight up. With the equipment on, the flat-top (grill) and the fryers, it was just way too hot in here,” she said, adding this is the first time in nine years the grill has shut down its equipment due to the heat.

Morgan is also considering closing early today, June 29.

The customers have been understanding of the situation, she said. One pair left after they found out the grill couldn’t offer the burgers and fries.

“They were disappointed, but they were understanding,” she said. “It’s been a bit of an adjustment for sure, just trying to keep the staff safe and do what we can to stay open. I know there’s a lot of other restaurants and suppliers that have just shut down.”

There’s currently three staff on at one time with their cold menu, she said.

In Kelowna, El Taquero is taking the heat day by day.

Co-owner of the Mexican restaurant Marnie Burnett said they closed down early already one day this week.

Ceiling fans have been installed, the AC is being left on overnight and they stopped outdoor patio seating so staff doesn’t have to go outside. It also keeps the cold air in as fewer people are opening and closing the doors, she said.

Employers are also running on shorter shifts which has been difficult with the current labour shortage amid the pandemic, she said. Restaurants and businesses across North America are struggling in recent months to find employees.

“We’re sending people to the walk-in fridge, we’re handing out popsicles and slushies and whatever else we can do to keep our staff happy,” Burnett said.

READ MORE: 'Sunshine Tax' and EI making it tough to find workers in Okanagan

They will also be closed on Canada Day to give staff a break, Burnett said.

The Small Axe Roadhouse, a bar in Enderby, has decided to close altogether to give staff a break.

READ MORE: Enderby bar's busty beer taps berated on social media

“Sorry everyone, it’s too hot on the patio, it’s too hot in the restaurant and it’s really too hot in the kitchen to safely ask employees to work,” according to the bar’s Facebook post.

“We’ve already lost one cook to heatstroke and we sure as heck aren’t gonna make it two.”

The bar asks residents to be extra patient to servers and cooks who are working in the heat.

They couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

In the last week, temperature records have shattered across B.C.

Kamloops was the hot spot amongst the larger cities in the Thompson-Okanagan, hitting 45.8C, breaking Sunday’s record by 1.8C.

READ MORE: All-time heat records shattered again for Kamloops, Okanagan and Canada


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