‘It’s devastating’: Duncan restaurant closes for good after ongoing struggle of pandemic

'It's devastating': Duncan restaurant closes for good after ongoing struggle of pandemic

Andrea Flemming is preparing to say goodbye to her dream, Hattie’s Farm to Table restaurant in Duncan.

After 16 months of COVID-19 pandemic-caused problems including closures, restrictions and now labour shortages, the restaurateur said she’s had enough.

“This one’s closing for good and it’s devastating because I poured my heart and soul into this business,” said Andrea Fleming, Owner of Hattie’s Farm to Table.

The Duncan woman has operated her restaurant on Duncan’s 1st Street for over 8 years, but told CHEK News Friday, that the continued challenges of the pandemic have taken a toll.

As re-opening kicks into high gear, business is booming for many restaurants, but the labour shortage has now created a major new and exhausting challenge.

At CVI Restaurant and Lounge in North Cowichan, the patio is closed because of a lack of staff.

Owner Bonnie Park said she’s even willing to hire people with no experience, but without any new applicants, Park and her staff are working non-stop trying to cover shifts.

“I’m working seven days a week, my general manager is working seven days a week, my one cook that knows everything on the line and even ordering he’s working seven days a week. Yeah we’re all just pushing through this together hoping that people will apply,” said Bonnie Park, Owner of CVI Restaurant & Lounge.

According to the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce, the labour shortage is proving difficult for businesses, leading to rotating closures at many restaurants.

“There’s a situation in Cowichan Bay. In Cowichan Bay they are working together to alternate the nights that they’re closed so that they can ensure that people can come to Cowichan Bay and ensure that people can have a meal every night of the week but its again a staffing issue,” said Sonja Nagel, Executive Director of the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce.

Hattie’s Farm to Table restaurant will close its doors for good on August 15th and its owner is convinced hers won’t be the last.

“I think we’re going to see many small businesses and really passionate owners make the same decisions,” said Flemming.

So with the approaching closure, Flemming is seizing each service her restaurant has left — proud of the space she built, but ready now for a rest.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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