The Fernwood Inn is shutting its doors in the wake of the COVID-19 virus, but not before offering its staff all of the remaining food in the restaurant.
Sixty staff members were laid off on Friday in compliance with provincial calls for social distancing. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry ordered all pubs to close on March 17, as well as any restaurants that could not accommodate social distancing.
“It’s been difficult to have make this decision,” said Michael Colwill, general manager and operating partner at both the Fernwood Inn and Fernwood Pizza. “They are equal parts staff, equal parts family.”
Fernwood Inn is closing, while Fernwood Pizza remains open on a delivery-only basis, which also resulted in staff cuts.
To try to help with the situation, management decided to open a pop-up grocery store so staff could pick up food for free.
“Our staff are the ones who are getting hit harder than most people in the neighbourhood, being in the service industry,” said Colwill, who is himself in self-isolation after returning from a trip to Mexico. “My heart goes out to them.”
The restaurant’s food supply includes everything from cheeses to albacore tuna, as well as produce, fresh chicken and ground beef. Colwill says there’s enough in stock to ensure that all staff members will be able to take a good amount home.
Management at the Fernwood Inn has also offered loans to staff members to help with costs in anticipation that the closure may go on for several months.
“We will survive, we will come back, we will be awesome,” he said, adding it’s just a matter of getting through it.