‘Hard choice’: Beloved Sidney restaurant closes amid staff shortage, pandemic challenges

'Hard choice': Beloved Sidney restaurant closes amid staff shortage, pandemic challenges
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Boondock's Bar and Grill in Sidney has closed its doors.

The owner of a well-known restaurant in Sidney operating for more than three decades has decided to call it quits due to ongoing challenges, but he’s hopeful a buyer will keep the legacy alive.

Boondock’s Bar and Grill opened about 35 years ago and now-owner Andrew Hansen says the COVID-19 pandemic, staffing issues and rising food costs haven’t fared well for his business, prompting him to close his doors.

“We did our best under very hard circumstances the last three years. It was a good run, but Boons just couldn’t sustain itself with trying to catch up from COVID and much higher costs afterward,” Hansen told CHEK News.

“All in all, there were a few deciding factors,” said Hansen, also noting that a labour shortage is to blame for the closure. 

While the restaurant employed about 15 people, he says more staff was needed and with most new hires “very green” to the hospitality industry, training costs were adding up.

Back in June, CHEK News spoke with BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association chair Peter De Bruyn, who, at the time, estimated the province’s hospitality industry was short around 40,000 workers.

In an interview, Hansen says he retired from being a heavy-duty mechanic after buying Boondock’s in 2019 but eventually “went back to turning wrenches” to keep the restaurant afloat and to recover financially amid the pandemic.

“I don’t think people realize just how much the hospitality industry was affected during all this,” he said. “But I will say this … there was a lot of local support during and after COVID, and that’s what hurts.”

READ ALSO: ‘End of an era’: No buyer means beloved Central Saanich restaurant closing after 43 years

The Fifth Street eatery, formerly located on First Street up until 2017, was known for its casual homestyle cuisine. It also had a banquet room and often hosted live performances — the latter of which is what Hansen will likely miss the most.

“One thing I will always be proud of is Boons sticking to local live music and having musicians play when most people were not booking them. Now there are so many businesses having live music in Sidney,” he said.

“We never stayed to one genre, we tried to have a night for all types of music. I just hope in my heart this continues.”

According to Hansen, Boondock’s is now up for sale and seeking a new owner to take over and maintain its local roots.

In a Facebook post announcing the closure, he acknowledged both staff and customers and said it was a “hard choice,” especially considering the relationships formed over the years.

“I want to thank everyone for supporting us during what was/is the most challenging time ever to run a hospitality business. I want to thank the staff that stuck it out…” wrote Hansen on Tuesday.

“I will still see you around as I don’t plan on leaving this great community and who knows, we may see each other from time to time.”

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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