Since 2002, Sockeye City Grill in Steveston, BC has been serving fresh seafood dishes in an inviting casual-dining atmosphere. As the perfect place for a family meal, they pride themselves in offering kid-friendly menu items to go along with their typical seafood offerings. The COVID-19 pandemic meant that they were unable to have guests sit in-house for a period of time, forcing them to resort to takeout and change their typical menu items to travel better. Upon re-opening the restaurant, they needed to find ways to mitigate the newly reduced restaurant capacity. They altered their menu once again to allow for faster service and quicker turnaround on tables.
In a similar position as many business owners across Canada, the Sockeye City Grill management found that the Canadian government subsidies were well-intentioned but fell short in practice. The subsidies covered costs for a few months in the early stages of the pandemic, but fail to help businesses as they approach the fall/winter when their fixed costs remain constant but they’re left with reduced capacity and thus reduced revenue. Patios, although a great solution to increase capacity for the summer months, will soon become unusable and leave restaurants with even less seating. As for subsidies, the need for financial aid remains constant, but as the initial COVID buzz has worn off, government help may not come for many Canadian restaurants.
“One thing to recognize is that many of the subsidies are simply deferring payments,” Explains Leiz, Sockeye City Grill owner. “We still have to pay the full amount and won’t be saving any interest costs either.”
Another frustration for the Sockeye City Grill was the city of Richmond’s decision to close public parking. Their intention was to prevent people from visiting the city in an attempt to curb the virus, but small businesses in Richmond and the surrounding townships are feeling the impact. Leiz explained that Sockeye City Grill has been collateral in this decision, as Richmond receives far fewer visitors these days due to limited parking. Fewer visitors means fewer people visiting the restaurant and surrounding local businesses, further reducing revenue.
“Small businesses employ 80% of Canadians, so it’s critical to keep them running,” states Leiz. “Corporations aren’t feeling it as much, and the restrictions in place for them are far leaner than for small businesses. It’s frustrating.”
Through these difficult times, the Sockeye City Grill has become increasingly resourceful to navigate the new landscape. They found that many suppliers were unable to deliver ingredients at the frequency the restaurant needed, and so they turned to grocery stores to source many of their ingredients. They appreciate their community and wanted to ensure that they could still serve them, despite the uncertainty and new challenges the restaurant was facing.
For more information on Sockeye City Grill, please visit https://sockeyecitygrill.com/#.