It’s been just over a month since the Ontario government declared a state of emergency, and ordered the shutdown of the province’s non-essential stores, cafes and restaurants. While the full economic impact of COVID-19 is yet to be seen, it’s already affecting many of Ottawa’s businesses. Since the beginning of the pandemic, multiple eateries have already been forced to close their doors permanently.
For some of the city’s small businesses and food-stops, the impact of physical and social distancing has already become too much to survive.
The Morning Owl, a breakfast spot located on Bank Street, has already confirmed that the COVID-19 pandemic became “too big an obstacle to overcome."
In a social media post on March 30, the cafe explained, “After sincere thought and consideration, we’ve been forced to set our sights on new goals and are closing the Morning Bank Street.”
Their notice continued, “Thriving as a small business is difficult at the best of time’s and the current economic environment is unfortunately too big an obstacle to overcome.”
Sadly, Morning Owl is not alone. This week, another long-time Ontario establishment has also made the difficult decision to close their doors permanently.
An hour west of Ottawa, Renfrew’s Flamingo Restaurant has also decided not to reopen after COVID-19. While the diner did attempt to offer takeout and contactless delivery in April, profits were not enough to sustain the business.
In an emotional notice to their customers on Facebook, the owners explained, “We have put all the effort we could during these extraordinary times into keeping the restaurant running...”
“Unfortunately, these efforts did not see the results we would have needed to keep going.”
Such notices continue to appear across Ontario. In Toronto, several iconic 6ix businesses have already confirmed that they have reached the end of the road, including 63-year-old Vesuvio Pizzeria and Spaghetti House.
For those businesses that are still managing to survive, the future is uncertain.
Speaking to Narcity, the owner of Luna Crepes & Cafe, explained, “I am working all by myself and my husband just recovered from cancer treatment."
"At the beginning, I was crying every day. I was so worried. But now I try to keep telling myself as long as we are healthy, we can start again."
While the Kanata-based breakfast house and dessert stop is trying their best to offer takeout and delivery services, which are still permitted by the province, the situation remains tense as the cafe has lost 90% of their income.
"Honestly we don't have a plan B. I know we can lose everything."
On April 2, Restaurants Canada estimated that the pandemic had caused 800,000 Canadians to lose their food service jobs. More than 300,000 of those people are living in Ontario.
The industry has been particularly hard-hit, with 90% of restaurant owners that resporting that they're "very worried" about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking about the crisis earlier this month, Premier Doug Ford said, “My heart breaks for these restaurant owners. A lot of them are small, family-run companies. One in 10 may not reopen, and I imagine it will probably be higher than one in 10.”
To support small businesses during this time, the federal government has announced a $82 billion spending package.
Support includes wage subsidies, the ability to defer tax payments, and interest-free loans.
Ottawans can help to support local businesses by choosing independent restaurants for takeout or delivery, and by purchasing vouchers or gift cards for future use.