Already reeling from COVID-19, market businesses hit another road block
LONDON, ONT. -- After almost 50 years in the restaurant business Mark Kitching, who owns Waldo’s on King, has reached the boiling point.
“This is the most stressed I've ever been,” says Kitching.
Not only has he invested thousands of dollars in COVID-19 safety measures both inside and out, but now he has to deal with months of road construction along King Street.
“With this lockdown now my takeout and curbside pick-up is down 90 per cent over the last lockdown because we have no curbside,” says Kitching.
He is not alone. Other tenants at the Covent Garden Market feel the same.
“You have no clue, it's been very difficult,” says Rob Watkin, who has operated Mr. Kwik Fix for 10 years.
“They're doing the construction, they're going to put that on top of everything else so from a 80 per cent loss I don't know how far we can go.”
Not far away, Daniel Stephan is the new kid on the block. He just opened Pastry Culture and is selling French sweets. He figured traffic would be slow due to COVID-19, but not this slow.
“I didn't expect to have something like this right now with the lockdown, COVID and construction on top of everything.”
The businesses all acknowledge they're in for a rough road ahead because construction on King Street started about two weeks ago and is expected to last for six months.
Watkin says people need to support small business adding, “I think they are the lifeblood of our economy, to be honest with you.”
They all want the province to make some changes.
Kitching says lots of restaurants have spent an enormous amount of time, effort and money making it safe for the customers.
“You go to the LCBO, government-owned, government-operated, no contact tracing, no controls inside and they're still open...But we get penalized when we do all of the contact tracing, all of the cleaning. Make it fair for everybody.”