Business owners hope Monday’s reopening will be their last

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The manager of Toronto’s popular Lakeview restaurant said restaurants and bars “just needed a spark” as COVID-19 restrictions were lifted on Monday to allow indoor dining with capacity limits.

“Hopefully this first week is that outlet we need, just to get us out of January,” said Peter Avenins.

Ontario gymnasiums, cinemas and museums will also be able to reopen on Monday, after being closed for the past few weeks.

Perhaps more than anything, business owners are hoping this is the last time they are forced to close, having been through waves of lockdowns and reopenings and then back to lockdown, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

They also wonder: will customers come back?

“This one feels like we had a little different exhaustion than last time… We felt a little more defeated with this one,” Avenins said of the recent shutdown. “We hope this will be the last, the last time we have to close, so we have a lot of energy to get back to it.”

Avenins said the Lakeview, at Dundas Street West and Ossington Avenue, has been doing takeout for the past few weeks, but it hasn’t been as busy. The restaurant is aiming to become open 24 hours a day again, hopefully soon, he said, and this weekend they plan to stay open until 4 a.m.

Indie Alehouse owner Jason Fisher said every reopening of his Junction brewery since 2020 has been different. (The brasserie will be closed on Mondays as always, but will be open for indoor dining from Tuesday.)

“The first one was almost euphoric, in that we were back in business, but there were ups and downs, ups and downs, so it’s kind of even now,” he said. he declares.

“I think the number one lesson of COVID for business is that you can’t really predict anything anymore.”

This reopening feels “much more comfortable” compared to the first time in the summer of 2020, when bars and restaurants had been closed for indoor dining for several months, said Tim Broughton, co-owner of the bar C’ is What on Front Street, also reopening on Tuesdays.

“The first time was more like ‘Oh my god, how do you do that? What are we going to do with plexiglass barriers and physical distancing? ” ” he said.

“We approached that one as having to figure it out on the fly, whereas this one, we approach it as ‘we have this, we know how to handle this one’.”

Restaurant owner Erik Joyal says this latest closure and reopening looks more difficult due to a combination of factors including cold weather and what he says is not enough support from the provincial and federal governments for businesses.

Joyal’s establishments include Ascari, which has two locations on King St. W. and Queen St. E.

“The time of year it happened made it extremely difficult,” Joyal said of the stoppage. “I think everyone’s mindset was that we were past that, and it came so quickly, so it was really, really tough.”

This week’s reopening will be more subdued, he said, compared to last summer’s reopening when “there was palpable excitement” due to good weather and patios were open. Nonetheless, Joyal said he was delighted to welcome customers back for indoor dining this week.

“We’re going to be careful and stuff like that, but at the end of the day, we just can’t go on like this, people have to make the best decisions they can for themselves,” he said. .

“And if they’re vaccinated and boosted and feel comfortable going to a restaurant, great, then you know what, I feel comfortable serving them and that’s it.”

Oliver Geddes, owner of The Fifth in the Entertainment District and restaurant Selva, echoed the sentiment about the government’s lack of support for businesses affected by the closures, saying the government should be fully compensated.

He said he wanted to see a plan from the government on how to avoid possible lockdowns in the future. Geddes said companies have “been forced into more debt, going bankrupt through no fault of their own.

“How the hell can we go on like this?” he said.

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