'It's called survival': Lethbridge City Council offering support for struggling restaurants
To help local restaurants survive the pandemic, the City of Lethbridge is now offering a 50 per cent matching grant of up to $1,000 to help cover the cost of outdoor barriers, furniture and heaters for any business needing to expand outdoor seating.
LETHBRIDGE, ALTA. -- Two weeks have gone by since indoor dining was allowed in Alberta's pubs and restaurants, and like the rest of the province, Lethbridge businesses owners are feeling the financial sting.
Many restaurant owners have had to scramble to open up outdoor seating areas in their parking lots to align with current restrictions, but with Lethbridge's fierce wind, it's no small task.
"When we're setting up our patio, we're looking for ways to make it comfortable for people, we have to make sure it's safe because it could be a beautiful sunny day but then the wind could come up," said owner and operator of Honkers Pub and Eatery in Lethbridge Vicky Van Den Hoek.
"I have to go and buy materials and find out how we can actually make this temporary parking lot patio a little bit more permanent for the summer time."
Van Den Hoek has looked into purchasing windshields to try to give customers some shelter, but quotes for proper barriers came back at roughly $4,000 forcing the pub to pivot.
Having to even furnish a parking lot when business is already slower than ever is a gut-punch for an already struggling industry.
In response, the City of Lethbridge is now offering a 50 per cent matching grant of up to $1,000 to help cover the cost of outdoor barriers, furniture and heaters for any business needing to expand outdoor seating.
A total of $40,000 is available for businesses in need and the funding is retroactive to January, 2021.
"If it wasn't for subsidies of any kind, I would not still be in business. That's a hard reality to swallow when you've been in business for 25 years," said Van Den Hoek.
"We're just trying to make a living. We're not trying to get rich here, because that is out the door. It's called survival."
Even with this recent funding approval from the city, local restaurants and pubs are still hoping those in the community will continue to step up to support them.
"This seems to be the slowest shutdown in terms of food ordering and it's fair. The weather obviously has a lot to do with that and if you look at the last one it was in the dead of winter. People are more inclined to order takeout when it 25 below outside, said Duke Pub and Grill general manager Kieran Meeks.
More information and applications for funding can be found here.