After 90 years of serving fish and chips, Old Vic Fish & Chips is shutting down and is now part of a handful of long-standing businesses that have called it quits in the last twelve months.
The shop at 1316 Broad Street in Victoria will close, but the owners say they are keeping an eye out for another location to hopefully reopen elsewhere.
“Either I relocate it — so that means I have to buy a current restaurant — or I rent a place and re-renovate it,” said Cindy Qin, owner.
Old Vic Fish & Chips has had multiple owners throughout the years. The decision to close was a tough but an inevitable one. In a September 2021 council meeting, the block the fish and chip shop is on was approved for redevelopment to build a hotel. The motion passed seven to one, with then-Councillor Ben Isitt voting against.
The search for a new location is difficult. Qin says she wants to remain in the downtown core but hasn’t been able to find a suitable or affordable replacement. Staying closer to the original location is key
“Last summer, people come like ‘oh, I don’t like here but I think it’s the right place because when I was 13, my grandma or my family bring me here. So that’s why I wanted to come to just check [the restaurant out]’,” said the owner.
LONG-STANDING BUSINESSES SHUTTING DOWN
The restaurant is part of a handful of long-standing businesses in downtown Victoria which has shut its doors permanently in the last twelve months.
In June 2022, Steveson’s Shoe Clinic closed its doors after 97 years. The owner said much of the staff was at retirement age and he couldn’t find a qualified replacement.
Capital Iron closed both its Langford and flagship location on Store Street in December 2022 before reaching 90 years in service. However, the owner of WestCoast Appliance Gallery bought the intellectual property for the name Capital Iron and intended to continue using it.
Former View Royal mayor and now-furniture store owner David Screech told CHEK News in November that after 67 years, he’s ready to shut his doors. Citing violent threats and damaged property.
THE LANDSCAPE IS CHANGING
Both the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) have noticed a change in the business landscape within the downtown core. Bruce Williams says since the beginning of the pandemic, businesses who found success outside of brick and mortar locations have shifted their focus to those mediums.
“There’s actually places that opened up specifically for the purpose of being takeout. They don’t have a sit down anymore,” said the Chamber of Commerce CEO.
“There’s a place on Fort Street called Refire Kitchen that have that to the point that they’ve now expanded to a second location in View Royal,”
Williams adds the cost of business is continuously going up and owners are moving more online.
But not all businesses have survived.
Jeff Bray with DVBA says along with moving online, stores have been closing due to retirement, relocation, not being to meet costs, or a lack of demand for certain specialty services or products.
Bray says the latest vacancy rate in the downtown core remains at 7.9 per cent from 2021 and says local shops still dominate.
“It often is independent businesses that are closing but other independent businesses are coming in,” said the CEO. “Especially downtown, it tends to be more entrepreneurs, unique businesses either with their merchandise or the experience they provide,”
Qin is planning on taking a small break after it closes its doors on Jan. 28th, but will keep herself floating through her side business. She also has to arrange space for her equipment.
The owner hopes to find a new location within the downtown core but may have to consider moving to another community.
Old Vic Fish & Chips is located at 1316 Broad Street.