Excitement to reopen, but damage done in Stratford, Ont. business community
STRATFORD, ONT. -- The Hub Pub and Patio in downtown Stratford would normally pretty busy over the lunch hour, but not Monday.
Kevin Larson is the Hub’s owner and operator.
"We're a 400-seat restaurant in downtown Stratford. And obviously no one is using our seats right now."
The Hub's patio should be able to reopen come Friday, but there's still been a lot of damage done since March, when the Hub had to tell customers to stay away.
“We had to furlough 32 permanent staff. The chances of bringing them back seems minimal considering we will probably open to a capacity of 20 per cent of our usual summer positions,” says Larson.
A block away, Julie Allam looks at what what had been a soon-to-be-opened event centre called Grayson Mills, but COVID-19 has put those plans on hold.
“When will we have big weddings again? When will we have Christmas parties? We don't know what the future is going to look like,” she says.
There is more optimism for Urban Barber Owner Jeff Buhrow, who will be able to open Friday. He was growing frustrated with the slow pace of getting to the business of cutting hair.
“It's time to get back to work. Other salons I've spoke with, they’re really feeling it. Unfortunately, there are examples of salons locally that have shut down permanently,” he says.
Back at the Hub, there's clearly some excitement about being allowed to get back to busines after only being allowed to deliver meals to customers for over two months.
But damage has been done to Larson’s business and others, even if they can reopen sooner than patios in other parts of the province.
“Where does this land in the future? How do we get back to pre-COVID? I don't see that happening, so we have to pivot our business. But I don't see it returning to its position beforehand,” he says.