West Shore restaurants and cafés have been put under pressure amid the spread of COVID-19, but they are not going down without a fight.
In order to meet the measures set in place by health officials and the District of Langford, eateries have had to make a variety of changes to the way they operate.
Mo:Lé, a local brunch restaurant on Millstream Road, shifted from providing a menu to customers, to offering grocery and meal-plan delivery and pick-up. Owner Josh Miller said this was necessary to keep operating because during these times, people aren’t necessarily looking to order breakfast take-out.
“Eggs don’t travel well,” said Miller. “So we had to look at how we can do things a little differently. So now it’s essential food and liquor grocery boxes, as well as some pre-made meals.”
For the first few weeks of March, the restaurant was shut down completely and Miller was forced to lay off all of his staff. But after assessing how things were going for other restaurants, he decided to reopen; this time using the new grocery delivery style of service, and was able to hire back three employees.
“For us it’s going really well. It’s been amazing to see the out pour of love and support from the community,” said Miller. “I think people are really excited about what we are doing, and the response has been great.”
People can now put in a grocery order online at www.molelovesyou.ca or by calling the restaurant.
“It is nice to pivot in a way where I can still employ people, and help the community in a way where I’m not putting them at risk. We are getting a lot of positive reinforcement so I definitely want to continue doing this as long as the demand is there,” said Miller.
Vaso Lyroni, owner of Dad’s Homemade Soups and Sangys, said things have been challenging considering she and her husband just bought the restaurant on March 1, but they are hoping for the best.
“It’s been quiet. I want to get to know everyone in the neighbourhood but it is difficult in this situation,” said Lyroni.
Lyroni had to lay off all of her staff, switch to a take-out service, decrease hours from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday, and is installing plexiglass around the till and the kitchen.
“I wash my hands constantly, and wipe everything down really well. I never want my customers to have concerns about sanitization,” said Lyroni. “I just miss my customers and my staff, I am looking forward to when things get back to normal. But people have been doing their best to come in and support us.”
Paul Lamoureux, owner at Serious Coffee Millstream, has also had to make some large shifts in order to remain open.
Lamoureux said he removed all outdoor and indoor seating, closed the bathrooms and removed cream and sugar stations, added the “tap” feature to the debit machine, was forced to let go of all but three staff members, and is installing a plexiglass shield in front of the till. He added that the café has increased its social media presence to let people know they are still open, and is continuously brainstorming new ideas for how to move forward as a business.
Despite all the rapid changes and uncertainty of what lies ahead, from Lamoureux’s perspective, there is hope and opportunity to come from this.
“There is always a silver lining and an opportunity to grow when your back is against the corner. It forces you to go ‘OK this is a brand new challenge and I need to look at things in a different way than I have in the past,’” said Lamoureux, noting that customers have been extremely supportive and generous.
“It’s giving us new ideas for the future. Entrepreneurs must have the mindset that we need to pivot, make changes and not fight it. The dust has settled from a few weeks ago, and this is the new norm. I have to keep the mindset that I will never quit, I’m not going to fail, and there is always, always, a way.”