Downtown London venues and restaurants brace for big hit
LONDON, ONT. -- London's restaurant and entertainment industry is bracing for a major hit, as cancellations threaten to keep diners at home, and music venues silent.
The London Music Hall on Dundas Place is among a number of venues that has postponed shows.
Pointing to an empty stage where normally there would be a road crew setting up for a touring show, the hall's vice president Demetri Manuel says he’s never seen anything like it.
“I've spoken to people who have been in the music industry much longer than I have and they don't recall something as drastic as what we're going through at this moment right now.”
At the London Music Hall’s smaller venue, Rum Runners, all shows have been capped at 200 people. Manuel says the measures they’ve had to take mean that most staff will be on layoff for a while.
“Postponements are relatively new so we are speaking with neighbouring businesses and staff. We are helping staff inside the London Music Hall maybe get on [employment insurance] because right now we are losing a lot of supports we have. Eighty staff at the London Music Hall part-time and full-time.”
Music industry representative Mario Circelli, who helps operate the Forest City London Music Awards and London Music Hall of Fame, worries COVID-19 could hit all the wrong notes with local working musicians.
“No shying about it though, it's going to be painful if gigs are lost, performances are lost, it's going to hurt a lot of local performers in the pocketbook. Hopefully we'll bounce back.”
Speaking at a music-related event on Friday, London West MPP Peggy Sattler is calling for the Doug Ford PC government to better protect workers from all walks of life.
“Workers who, you know, when they hear the advice of the medical professionals to stay home when they're sick may worry about what that will mean for being able to pay the rent or put food on the table. And so we have been urging the government to reinstate the paid sick days that were taken away.”
Meanwhile, with Budweiser Gardens experiencing postponements, including the London Lightning and London Knights, some restaurants are worried about the trickle-down effect. Across the road at J’Dees Market Grill they’re hoping the hurting won’t last.
“So far lunches have been steady and evenings steady so people haven't stopped going out to restaurants yet,” says owner Jim Davies.
“However, we're highly dependent on Budweiser Gardens. And again, as long as these things are just postponed and not cancelled, eventually we will get the revenue that we were expecting. We'll just get it at a different time of year.”