The problem as most restaurateurs see it is that while the government has been quick to jump to the rescue of some industries, hospitality has been mostly ignored.
“I feel for the airline industry, I really do, but where’s the voice for our industry,” Lachance says. “We’re varied; what resonates for Jeff Fuller of Joey and Earls isn’t what resonates for the little indie guy with 10 employees.”
What seems to be resonating at the moment is SaveHospitalityCa, which functions as both a manifesto and a call to arms. Started by Andrew Oliver of Oliver & Bonacini, and John Sinopoli and Eric Joyal of Ascari Group, it’s an attempt at wrangling those varied voices into a cohesive industry message; so far over 1,000 restaurants nationwide have signed on, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Locally, a group calling itself the Edmonton Independent Hospitality Community (including such businesses as The Common, Little Brick, Blue Plate Diner, and Sabor among many) has popped up on Twitter offering possible solutions.
With Restaurants Canada noting that food service represents four per cent of the national GDP, and sales down nearly 20 billion, there’s a lot at stake. SaveHospitalityCa is suggesting a few things to cushion this punishing blow, including a rent freeze and forgivable loan program. Other options aren’t really workable if restaurants and pubs are to survive into the summer; many staggered by the pandemic will still go under, but there may be a chance to save others.