Family Central Restaurant to close, a COVID-19 casualty

·2 min read

After six years operating in one of Aylmer’s landmark buildings, the Family Central Restaurant will be closing its doors on Saturday, Dec. 19. Central building board member, Albert Loewen, described challenges from COVID-19 as “the final nail” that led to the restaurant’s closure.

The building’s Family Central Apartment program, which provides affordable housing to participants while they work towards education and employment goals, will remain open.

“It’s tough because you need numbers, you need crowds, that’s literally what you rely on to make your ends meet,” Mr. Loewen said.

“We’re headed into the winter where there’s no patio option, and now there’s talk of further lockdowns.”

Family Central Restaurant has been serving the community since 2014 with a goal of providing a wholesome and welcoming dining environment to families and the business community of downtown Aylmer.

To encourage families and groups to have meaningful conversations with each other, the restaurant rewards patrons who refrain from using cell phones during meals with a 10% reduction on the bill.

“At the end of the day, it’s a tough market for restaurants right now. We’re sad about it, but it’s a reality that a lot of restaurants are facing,” said Mr. Loewen.

“I would highly encourage people to support the other local restaurants.”

The organization’s main focus will now be providing affordable housing to the community through the Family Central Apartments, which provides eight units on the second and third floors.

Currently, the basement is being renovated to operate as a space to serve those in the program. The space will provide semi-private meeting rooms, access to computers for job searches and other online needs, shower and laundry facilities, and an in-house barber.

“The whole idea is to be a transitional space for people to get to a place of independence - whether they’re lacking education, or whatever is holding them back from a place they can get on their own,” explained Mr. Loewen.

The apartment program currently employs two people who actively work and partner with other agencies to support those living in the program.

The future for the first floor of the building, where the restaurant is, has yet to be determined.

Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express