The losses promise to be catastrophic for restaurateurs in Quebec, in the wake of the rise in COVID-19 cases and new health restrictions.
About 150 people had reserved for Friday evening in the two restaurants of Goppy Sandhu on the Plateau-Mont-Royal. In the aftermath of the announcements of new sanitary measures in the province, the restaurateur expected no more than 30.
“Everyone is panicking. I’ve never seen so many last minute cancellations, ”says the owner of Sandhu and India Rosa restaurants, who says he’s very stressed by the situation.
What to do with all the food that was ready to be served and with its staff that was mobilized? He wonders it. The financial consequences are inevitable.
Christmas parties were to fill its halls all next week. However, if the customers do not cancel themselves, it is Mr. Sandhu’s team who will have to remove half of them to comply with the rules issued by the government, which will demand from Monday that the dining rooms are not only 50% met.
The situation is similar in the Etat-Major and Quartier Général restaurants. “The holiday season is super important. Everyone was waiting for this moment to get their heads out of the mud, ”underlines Constance Tassé-Gagnon, manager of social networks and former chief of staff. “The merchandise cannot be returned. We have to reorganize the teams, reinstall the dining rooms. It’s a lot to do in such a short period of time, ”she adds.
While they could only welcome customers without restrictions since November, restaurateurs have the impression of replaying in the same film as at Christmas 2020. The difference is that their rooms were completely closed last year, since the month of October.
“What is hard is how close these changes are to Christmas. Everything has been bought, ordered. Last year on this date, we had only done take out and we had sold everything. We worked in the assembly line, the teams were in place for that. We knew how much was going to leave, what to do to set it up. This year, everything is uncertain, ”laments Ms. Tassé-Gagnon.
Obstacles that pile up
Many restaurateurs have the terrifying feeling that a complete closure could be imminent. They also point out that these new setbacks are added to those experienced in obtaining alcohol, in the context of the labor dispute at the Société des alcools du Québec.
“It’s absurd how complicated it is to stock up on wine. We ordered some crazy because one feared not to have enough for the holidays. I just received a large order, ”reports Nikolas Da Fonseca, sommelier and owner of the bar vinvinvin.
“We filled the chests with wine and beer to make sure we had enough. I’m afraid we’ll get stuck with a lot of alcohol and food, ”says Le Darling restaurant-bar general manager Helena Sokoloff.
But for many restaurateurs, the most heartbreaking thing is having to lay off more employees. In the context of the labor shortage, this is a major issue.
“I’m afraid of losing my team and never finding it. A lot of people are going to change careers. After once, twice, three times they lose their jobs, they won’t come back and I understand them, ”Mr. Sandhu regrets.
What can consumers do to help them? Call as soon as possible when they need to cancel to help them plan their schedules. Another way to encourage them is to buy take-out.
“If people want to help, they can come and furnish the beginning and the end of the service. We open at 3 p.m. and the end of the evenings is to arrive around 10 p.m. or later. In our case, that can make a difference, ”says Da Fonseca.