Long-time London family business shutting its doors due to Stage 3 COVID-19 restrictions
LONDON, ONT. -- After 38 years of business in east London, Ont. the Imperio Banquet Hall is closing its doors for good.
The province's move to Stage 3 of COVID-19 guidelines may have been a godsend for some businesses, but for others it means the restrictions imposed will keep their doors shut.
"It's heartbreaking, I was a kid when my parents first started it," says Nelson Vieira, who has owned the business with his wife Sandra for the past 18 years.
"Our major part is social events and unfortunately the opposite of social distancing is exactly what we do. We bring family and friends together for weddings or anniversaries that is basically something you can't do until this is over."
The latest move by the province allows for gatherings of 50 people indoors, but they are not allowed buffet-style food service or dancing.
The Vieiras had been closed for 120 days when they received a massive property tax bill on July 1 from the City of London.
That bill is what ultimately forced the closure.
"We were waiting for the last three months and hoping for some kind of relief, or incentive that would say because you haven't been operational we'll help you this way," says Sandra.
"We didn't get any help, and because we are privately owned we needed other income to afford property taxes."
They started 'Tasty Fresh Chef' takeout, but it is not enough to pay the bills.
Now they have started a liquidation sale.
"At one point, we knew would have to start some kind of cash flow to generate income to sustain the bills," says Nelson.
"We shut our down large freezers and coolers started a liquidation sale. Now that we are closing down, we continually add to it, which will be all our catering stuff."
The next step is looking for ways to serve their four decades worth of customers, and for businesses to rent their four spaces on the property including their Playdate entertainment building.
Sandra says they are so appreciative of all the customers of the years.
"It's sad to see this go and we'll miss everyone, but rest assured we'll keep you in the back of our minds and we'll come back bigger and stronger. "