A bitter New Year's Day among the city's restaurateurs
A restaurant closed in 2021. Restaurant dining rooms are now closed until January 17.
Already battered by the labor shortage and the pandemic, Montreal restaurateurs are raising a cry of alarm at the government, dismayed at having closed their dining rooms at 5 p.m. this Friday until January 17.
On the phone, the owner of the Kitchen 73 restaurants does not hide his anger following Prime Minister François Legault's announcement on Thursday.
The restaurateur will lay off 120 employees, unable to cover food losses and operating costs for the next few months if it remains open.
“Our fridges are full,” exclaims Carmine Anoia. Our suppliers are already paid, the restaurant owner's cashflow , it stays in our fridges, and in addition we have fixed expenses ”.
Kitchen 73 Restaurant Owner Carmine Anoia
And he's not the only one feeling the impact of room closures since late afternoon.
In the city center, the French restaurant Chez Alexandre was at full capacity yesterday. Yet today there were only three clients or four clients on site.
Its owner, also president of the Peel Street Restaurants and Merchants Association, says he's upset as he still plans to serve customers on New Year's Day.
“It's like giving your son a nice bike at Christmas, and a week later you take him away because there were too many accidents,” says Alain Creton. I feel like this. We all feel like that. ”
He also feels that & nbsp; all of his staff are disillusioned & nbsp; by the situation. & Nbsp; Due to the labor shortage, & nbsp; he fears that he will not be able to hold them back if these conditions persist. & nbsp;
According to him, the government lacked transparency. & nbsp; & nbsp;
“They could have implied: restaurateurs, hoteliers, it's fine for Christmas, but we are not safe for New Years Day. Just let us imply! We're angry because we weren't warned, “he insists.
Alternatives ignored & nbsp;
The Association Restauration Québec (ARQ) says it has provided other alternatives than closing restaurants to the government. One of them is having only one bubble per table. But according to the grouping, the worst-case scenario was ultimately chosen.
“We thought we had a good December at the beginning, many thought they could build up a cushion to spend January and February, since the traffic is not present in these months” explains Martin Vézina, director of public and government affairs.
According to Vézina, the pandemic is creating more and more instability that will hurt the industry in the long run. He thinks the government should be more specific about the stimulus in January.
“Are we going to operate six months a year from now because there is a variant that will reappear?” The message it sends to restaurateurs is that maybe I should go and work elsewhere, because I'm not going to work six months a year, ”he said.
Better help & nbsp;
That's not all. & nbsp; According to Mr. Anoia, home delivery services are a long way off to be the panacea since multinationals can take up to 20% of restaurant bills. like Uber Eats, he says.
“When you order online, it's often just a main course, not an appetizer or starter,” he says. So the delivery bill is $ 14 per person instead of $ 25 per person. “
He adds that more provincial subsidies are also needed. & Nbsp; & nbsp;
The ARQ also asks the government to provide a better assistance program to restaurateurs. & nbsp; & nbsp;
“The current loan program is still a variable geometry loan program depending on your MRC and 20% of the loan is at the expense of the operator”, explains Mr. Vézina .
But for Mr. Creton, investments do not replace all the heart that restaurateurs have put into their businesses.
“It's the people who invest in catering, it's the cooks, it's the waiters”, launches the latter.
Mr. Anoia thanks as for him the people who sent him messages of support on social networks.
“It is because of these people that we are still here 12 months later”, concludes- he.