Board of trade urges restaurateurs to remain calm as supply chain issues begin to affect them

·3 min read
Bartenders and servers wear masks inside Earls Kitchen and Bar on their reopening day in Vancouver on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC) (Maggie MacPherson/CBC - image credit)
Bartenders and servers wear masks inside Earls Kitchen and Bar on their reopening day in Vancouver on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC) (Maggie MacPherson/CBC - image credit)

The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade says it supports the province's decision to temporarily restrict access to gas and is urging businesses to stay calm and support essential workers as they continue to help residents impacted by the devastating flood.

"We supported the move by the government to do this and recognizing that it is really necessary in order to ensure that we are getting services to the people in need," president and CEO Bridgitte Anderson told the CBC's The Early Edition.

She said the board is having ongoing conversations with both the federal and provincial governments about the continuing impact of last week's severe flooding and the impact it has on businesses.

"We are in close contact with all levels of government," Anderson said, "but we are also doing some further thinking about what we can do to rally the business community to help those particularly in the Fraser Valley, Meritt and Princeton.

Temporarily shutting dinner service

Harry Passek, the owner and chef of Passek's Classics Restaurant and Bakery in Kamloops, says he's already having a hard time acquiring goods for his restaurant.

"I can't get whipping cream and I'm struggling to find milk," Passek told CBC News. "Blackwell Dairy, they're local, has doubled up in their inventory so that they can keep up with demand right now. So I'll be speaking with them."

Every major route connecting B.C.'s Interior with the Lower Mainland was severed by floods, mudslides or washouts after the southern part of the province was hammered by record rainfall.

Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Technologies
Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Technologies

He said he's also contacted a supplier in Armstrong for ingredients and supplies he needs for his bakery, but he's also finding it challenging to get produce.

"I'm having a hard time getting lettuce and getting tomatoes on a couple things, so I'm just kind of scrambling to different stores to see what I can get," he said.

Passek said he decided to temporarily shut down his dinner service so he can ensure he has enough food to serve his customers breakfast and lunch.

"I'm shutting down dinners for my three nights a week, which are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for the next couple of weeks," he said. "Until I can get a more certainty of what's going on with produce and other things."

He said he's concerned he'll also face shortages of meat in the weeks to come as much of his poultry comes from farms in the Sumas Valley.

Difficult time for restaurateurs

"We've had COVID-19 for the last 20 months, wildfires in the summer and now floods and the supply chain problems caused by that," said Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada's Western Canadian vice president.

"It's certainly been a difficult time."

He said restaurants have had to reduce their menu items or close for certain hours after flooding and landslides closed highways, cutting businesses off from the supply chains they rely on.

"About 80 per cent of our members are losing money or just barely breaking even," said von Schellwitz. "But the first priority is obviously getting over this latest hurdle and get that transportation infrastructure working again."

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