The May 24 long weekend is upon us, and restaurants in popular staycation communities are preparing for a busy one.
Sulagna Sanyal and Raj Menon, owners of Yes B'y Indian Kitchen in Dildo are getting their menu in order and expanding their staff as they look ahead to the weekend and summer ahead, still under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sanyal said she and Menon are following staycation Facebook groups closely, to get a feel for how the summer will go.
"It seems that every place is booked and people have started already. So, our prediction is it will be busy," she said.
"We're hoping on staycations. Last year we opened in August and staycations helped us a lot."
With a simple menu and a focus on quick snacks, both owners say there's no turning back once their doors open on May 22.
About 70 kilometres north in Ochre Pit Cove, Ray Dwyer, owner of Red Ochre Cafe, says the weekend could be hit or miss, but is expecting a busy summer. His restaurant sits just south of the popular Northern Bay Sands beach and campground which draws hundreds of people on hot, sunny days and is flanked by nearby cottages and summer homes.
Dwyer opened his doors in September 2019, and said it's hard to compare this year to last year given the pandemic is still grappling most of the country, and parts of N.L.
But with the amount of traffic that passes his door each day from surrounding communities and those heading to the beach, he says he's been "flat out" since the most recent lockdown, and is expecting to be busier again this summer.
"I got people coming from everywhere here. People want to get out of the city, so they'll go for a run. It's only an hour and a half to get out here for a bit of lunch or a bit of supper," said Dwyer. "It's just a little break."
Back in business
The Bonavista Social Club in Upper Amherst Cove made the difficult decision not to open its doors last year. However, this summer things are looking up for the business, with a trial run of takeout picnics starting over the weekend.
Owner and chef Katie Hayes told CBC News she hopes the takeout plan can continue on weekends until July 1 when the restaurant opens, which will be three evening services a week until September.
"I'm trying to think short term, and keep overhead low and just stay busy," Hayes said. "I think I'm busier now, even though the restaurant won't be quite as busy because we're trying to keep things at a smaller scale. But we're excited to open this year."
Hayes said the break helped her get creative and excited about food again, though it was a tough decision to remain closed last summer. She said she quickly realized it was the right move, which allowed her to spend more time with family and enjoy the weather.
"I'm fully thinking about staycationers and thinking about serving Newfoundland and Labrador," Hayes said.
"We've had a year and a half to kind of wrap our heads around it and we're ready."