CALGARY -- It's been nearly two months since restaurants in Alberta were closed for dine-in service and many had been expecting to welcome customers back Thursday as part of the first phase of the province’s economic relaunch strategy.

Late Wednesday afternoon, restaurant owners learned that would not be happening in Calgary and Brooks as a result of the elevated COVID-19 case numbers in the two cities.

John Nicastro, the owner of Higher Ground in Kensington, says the last minute decision puts businesses at further risk. He says the province wasn’t clear enough about the possibility businesses might not be able to relaunch as planned.

"I just think they could've used the word 'tentatively' or 'possibly' the 14th," said Nicastro. "You have to call in staff and there’s so many moving parts in a business.

"You assume it’s the 14th  and to move the goalposts in the fourth quarter makes it very difficult. You’re affecting several people."

Like many restaurants planning to swing open the doors, Nicastro recalled staff and stocked up the fridges and freezers with food hoping for a rush of customers. A lot of the product that’s been ordered is perishable and might not last the 11 days until the province says the cafe could potentially reopen.

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The west side breakfast joint Brekkie was also expecting to reopen Thursday. Staff had spent the week cleaning, spacing tables apart, and even practicing how to safely serve food under the new guidelines. For the next 11 days, it will return to relying on take-out orders to keep the cash flowing.

"We are going to have to look to those deliveries and the take out options for our customers and kind of work with the new business model," said Andrea Rogoschewsky, one of the restaurant's owners. "(at least) until it’s safe to go back to what we thought was the norm."