‘It just doesn’t make sense’: Guelph restaurateur wants capacity restrictions relaxed


The president and CEO of the Neighborhood Group of Companies in Guelph said there must be a change after restaurants were excluded from the list of places allowed to lift capacity limits.

The Desautels court said it didn’t make sense that cinemas, concert halls and arenas could now accommodate 100% people, but restaurants must still maintain six feet between tables.

Read more:

Ontario is lifting capacity limits for theaters and venues; restaurants, gyms among those left behind

“I’m a huge sports fan so I’m happy for the arenas. It’s great, ”he said in an interview on Tuesday.

“But again, restaurants are being left out and we are the ones who have struggled through it all. Just think of the number of small independents who are struggling to survive and yet you can people watch in a stadium. “

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Desautels’ company is behind some of Guelph’s most popular restaurants and bars – Miijidaa Cafe and Bistro, Borealis Grille and Bar and The Wooly Pub, as well as Park Grocery.

He said the way the announcement was made by the Ontario government is not surprising.

“I think it was 4:45 pm on a Friday of a long weekend,” he said in a telephone interview. “So they didn’t have to deal with the fallout. “

This fallout now involves strong calls on Doug Ford’s government to increase capacity in places like restaurants, bars and gyms.

“A place like the Scotiabank Arena, they will have full capacity. That’s 19,800 people without physical distancing rules. During this time, gyms, yoga and dance studios and bowling alleys are limited to 50% of their capacity, ”said Julie Kwiecinski of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

“Restaurants and meeting and event spaces will still need to follow physical distancing rules. “

She said it comes down to fairness and that her organization demands that the government level the playing field for all sites that participate in the province’s immunization mandate program.

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Kwiecinski also added that restaurants have already faced this scenario.

“This is a sequel to the saga of last year when the Ontario government chose Walmart and Costco over small businesses,” she said. “They allowed big box stores to sell anything to everyone in the store while small retailers were limited to pickup and delivery.”

Desautels said having to keep six feet between tables means capacity is less than half at most of its restaurants and to make matters worse they have been forced to close their temporary patio spaces by the city of Guelph as colder weather approaches.

“We have the opportunity to invest in plexiglass barriers. But it’s a big cost to invest, ”he said. “The last time we did this in one of our restaurants, two weeks later, we were closed. So you eat these costs and you don’t know what decision the government is going to make.

He said he contacted the mayor, the Guelph Chamber of Commerce and Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner.

“None of this seems to make sense to anyone,” Desautels said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”

He also added that staffing is very difficult these days with the entire restaurant industry being hammered as laid-off employees seek safer work in other industries.

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“It’s not fair”: gyms and restaurants express concerns over capacity lift measures

“It’s not fair”: gyms and restaurants express concerns over capacity lift measures

Desautels said he couldn’t blame the employees for finding work elsewhere.

“When you’re forced to close or you can’t have full capacity, you don’t have the same staffing levels and the rules change. People are fed up and they will find consistent work elsewhere, ”he said.

“That’s what we’re dealing with right now. We have people who have been in this industry for years, if not decades, who have had to look for another job opportunity because the manufacturing sectors, for example, are not affected at all by these closures. “

Read more:

Mixed reaction after Ontario lifts capacity limits for some industries

Sitting on the Restaurants Canada board of directors, Desautels said he knows there have been talks with the Ontario government this week and hopes good news hits restaurants this week.

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“We have to see a change,” he said. “If not, you’ll see a lot more vocal and upset business owners making their voices heard wherever possible. “

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