'What are we going to do?': Restaurateurs turn to each other for support - InfoNews

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'What are we going to do?': Restaurateurs turn to each other for support

Chef Rod Butters Co Owner/Creator of RauDZ, Terrafina Chef de Cuisine Jenna Pillon, and RauDZ Executive Chef Brock Bowes.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Raudz Creative Concepts
April 04, 2020 - 2:00 PM

B.C.’s restaurant workers are starving for assistance and guidance, a fact that is poignantly being made in videos posted on OneTable.ca.

The industry-driven website features Okanagan restaurateurs alongside others from across the province, and lays bare the plight they and their employees face.

“To talk about our industry without my chef jacket doesn’t feel right,” Rod Butters of Raudz Restaurant Group said in the brief clip.

“Nothing about our community or the world right now feels right... our team looks to me for the answers and I don’t have those answers. So we need your help and we need it now. We need everyone at one table.”

In another clip, he talks about how he’s worried about the outcomes of those who have relied on his restaurants for so long, to build their families.

“I worry about our head server, Mike, who’s been with us for 19 years. I worry about our manager who just bought a house. What are these people going to do? What are we going to do?”  he said.

His partner Audrey Surrao, added that their financial resources and savings are being depleted.

David Lindsay of the Train Station Pub was also featured and said they’ve currently lost 70 team members who need to get back to work as soon as possible. And Courtney Koga and Brock Bowes of CrAsian Foods Corp. have also laid off all their employees.

The new site provides links to government programs aimed at helping businesses through the economic crisis caused by the outbreak of COVID-19.

It also provides information about how restaurant owners should navigate the staff layoffs and closures caused by the public health orders that have effectively closed most restaurants, except for some curbside pickup and home delivery options.

But as one restaurateur said, deferring taxes and hard costs is just accumulating more debt. There need to be better solutions, they say, sooner than later.

Restaurants Canada announced earlier this week that in British Columbia alone, about 121,500 workers are off the job and might not be able to return if conditions continue this way.

Across the country, 800,000 foodservice jobs have already been lost.

With restaurants now struggling to pay rent and other bills due, the national association has surveyed its members to shed light on the state of the industry. Responses from foodservice operators across the country have revealed already nearly one out of 10 restaurants have already closed permanently and another 18 per cent will permanently close within a month if current conditions continue.

“Not only was our industry among the first to feel the impacts of COVID-19, but we’ve also been one of the hardest hit so far, with nearly two-thirds of our workforce now lost,”  Shanna Munro, Restaurants Canada President and CEO said in a release.

”In our 75 years of existence as Canada’s national foodservice association, these are by far the worst numbers we have ever seen.”

Canada’s $93 billion foodservice industry represents four per cent of the country’s GDP. If conditions do not improve, Restaurants Canada estimates that foodservice sales will be down nearly $20 billion for the second quarter of 2020.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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