Bearspaw restaurant blames poor economy for upcoming closure
The Bears Den Restaurant & Lounge is shutting down at the end of January and the owners say poor economic conditions and changes to Alberta’s employment standards are making it difficult to stay in business.
A message was posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page on Friday saying …
“Unfortunately, economic conditions in the industry including the continuing poor business environment along with recent changes in the minimum wage and statutory holiday pay requirement have resulted in conditions that are unsustainable for remaining open. The Bears Den family wishes all our guests the very best. If you have gift cards, we encourage you to pay us a final visit to use them up by January 28th.”
“It’s death by a thousand cuts. It’s an increase in wages, it’s an increase in labour conditions, statutory holiday pay for example, its carbon tax. All of that together builds up and or course, my suppliers, we’re at the end of a value chain, our suppliers have to pass those costs off and so they’re passing it across to me. There’s only so much I can raise my prices, so I’ve raised my prices ten percent at the end of last year to try to make up for some loss that were occurring,” said Scott Winograd, General Manager and Co-proprietor. “It’s a complex issue, it’s not just one issue, it’s not just minimum wage increases, it’s so many other things.”
Winograd says he would have to raise prices by at least 20 – 30 percent just to break even.
“I can’t just raise prices like that, it’s not viable, it’ll chase away my customers, either way we’d have to close our doors,” he said.
Minimum wage is set to increase to $15 per hour in October and Alberta’s Labour Minister, Christina Gray, says it will ensure restaurant workers can also put food on their own tables.
"The increase to Alberta's minimum wage helps ensure that the servers and kitchen staff who put food on our tables when we enjoy a night out can also afford to put food on their own tables. While it is unfortunate to hear that the owners of this restaurant have decided to close their doors, we know Albertans continue to enjoy dining out with their friends and families. Restaurant receipts reached an all-time high in Alberta last year, and employment in the province's food services sector is recovering from the low of the recession. In 2017, dozens of new restaurants opened in Calgary including many local favourites that expanded by opening second or third locations" said Gray in a statement to CTV News on Monday.
The restaurant will close on January 28th and about 26 staff members will be laid off.