“We’re going to need extra hands”: local restaurants prepare for terrace season

Kitchener –

Hiring is underway at local restaurants for what is expected to be a busy summer of outdoor dining, as Ontario moves closer to the first phase of its plan to reopen that would allow the patios to function.

On Friday afternoon, empty patios line King Street in Kitchener. In any normal year, the region would be bustling with al fresco diners.

“It’s a ghost town,” said Shaina Schlegel, director of Bobby O’Brien’s. “It’s so crazy, we’re used to having a lot of people on our patio.”

Behind the scenes, however, local restaurants are gaining momentum. Many are hiring and re-hiring staff for what should be a busy summer.

During the shutdown, Bobby O’Brien’s also gave his patio a facelift, getting rid of the volleyball court in favor of 15 new patio tables.

“We want it to be a safe experience for everyone, a pleasant experience. We’re so excited to have people here, ”said Schlegel.

Bobby O’Brien’s is getting ready for a busy patio dining season. (Tegan Versolatto / CTV Kitchener)

Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Tuesday she understood people were eager to take Step 1 and were waiting for a decision on whether to extend that deadline for a few days.

Currently, this reopening phase should take place on June 14. It would allow alfresco dining with up to four people per table and other restrictions, although it is not clear whether terrace capacity limits will be set.

“Restaurant owners and operators are eager to start over and our trends are heading in the right direction,” said Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, Waterloo Region Medical Officer of Health.

Industry professionals know one thing is for sure, once they get the green light everything will be on deck.

“With what we went through last summer, we’re going to need some extra arms for the summer. Not just our regular staff, ”said Red House Managing Director Ainsley Szvitak.

Red House in Uptown Waterloo plans to hire up to 20 new employees, although the latest lockdown has demonstrated the futility of the planning.

“We’ve been open for a week, then you have to pivot again. So I think we’re going a bit more cautiously this time around, but always trying to be as prepared as possible for a busy summer, ”Szvitak added.

Gladys T. Hensley

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