A wave of bars and restaurants are following each others’ lead and shutting down entirely for the rest of the year.
A handful of bars shut down for business temporarily last week, not only shifting to a takeout-only model but closing entirely until further notice.
Now social media feeds are a slew of one restaurant after another posting that they’ll be closing down all operations temporarily, most until further notice with no set reopening date.
Chez Nous Wine Bar owner Laura Carr and her staff were already getting nervous about safety concerns by last week, and were also already seeing a dropoff in traffic.
“Luckily none of us got sick, but so many of our neighbouring restaurants and friends in the industry got hit,” Carr tells blogTO.
“It started to feel like it was coming for us all, so this was kind of a pre-emptive strike against the virus to keep us and our families safe.”
While they felt painfully aware of dangers closing in around them, another issue was that some people coming through their doors didn’t seem to feel the same, disrespecting rules and getting into altercations over showing ID and vaccine passports.
“On Saturday night my staffer was called both a c*** and a b**** by a piece of shit who seemed to have missed all the memos about the fact that we’re living in a pandemic,” says Carr.
“Kept getting up to yell drink orders at her without a mask, and go over to other peoples’ tables to socialize, demanded service after the midnight cut-off. Of course, this was not everyone, but it only takes one asshole like that to ruin a night or pass on the virus.”
With the potential of cases continuing to go up and another actual lockdown, she’s planning on keeping Chez closed until the New Year, but will be going in a few days a week to open as a bottle shop as a compromise.
“The profit margin is much smaller, but at least the interaction with the public is less risky, and the regulars and locals, the real heart and soul of Chez Nous, can still stock up on their favourites and continue to offer their support,” says Carr.
Restaurants Paupers Pub, Skyline and Whelan’s Gate have closed down all operations temporarily, meaning zero takeout for now.
DaiLo is closed totally but will still be offering pickup for their New Year’s meal. Bars Big Trouble and Tonight are also choosing to close entirely temporarily.
“We just realized how prominent the spread of Omicron is in our communities and thought it would be prudent to shut down,” Paupers Pub general manager Adam Slight tells blogTO.
“It is our plan to review a reopening plan after Christmas, but as you know this situation is developing before our eyes and we’re monitoring it closely with the safety of our staff and customers in mind.”
Even cafe Larry’s Folly is shutting down for the holiday season, where a small team of staff has grown. They’ll only be following through on their Christmas butter tart orders, offering contactless pickup.
“This has been the first time I’ve felt so vulnerable and at risk since we opened last October,” Larry’s Folly owner Stephen Schweighardt tells blogTO.
“I’ve seen so many other businesses have to close because of exposure or positive cases, it just felt like we were waiting to get hit by it. Last year it was only myself working but this time around I have five staff I’m responsible for.”
Indeed, a ton of places have also been posting that they’ve had to close (before they ever got the chance to decide to) to due an exposure. Bovine Sex Club and La Palma have both announced they’ve closed due to close contact.
Schweighardt points out that no matter the reason, at this point maybe it’s just time for a break.
“We were going to close the 25th to the 3rd anyways, so it seemed like a silly risk to take so close to the end,” says Schweighardt.
“We’ve all been stretched so thin for so long, I think these past few days have really just emptied our tanks. Time to take a step back and reset.”