A struggling Campbell River cafe owner makes a last-ditch appeal — and a community answers

·2 min read
Cafe owner Chris Fawbert's daughter helps stock the beverage cooler at the family's Campbell River cafe.  (Chris Fawbert/Facebook - image credit)
Cafe owner Chris Fawbert's daughter helps stock the beverage cooler at the family's Campbell River cafe. (Chris Fawbert/Facebook - image credit)

When Chris Fawbert heard new COVID travel restrictions were on the way he feared it spelled the end for the Java Shack.

Fawbert has owned and operated the Campbell River cafe across from the BC Ferries terminal in the Vancouver Island city for 23 years. But he watched as take-out orders and lunch-time deliveries dwindled through the pandemic.

"We basically had 14 months of continuous bleeding," he told CBC On the Island's Gregor Craigie.

Fawbert said he resolved to issue a last-ditch appeal for customers to come back after his daughter, hearing the parents' conversation, asked: "Is our shop going to close?"

"It broke my heart," he wrote.

On the cafe's Facebook page he posted: "This latest health order could quite possibly be our death blow."

"We know you're doing your part to keep our community safe, and eventually this pandemic will end, but in all honesty we may not be here when it does," Fawbert wrote.

Chris Fawbert at work in his cafe kitchen with his daughter nearby. The Java Shack owner sent out an appeal for support to keep his small Campbell River cafe afloat because he feared new travel and tourism restrictions would force it to close permanently.
Chris Fawbert at work in his cafe kitchen with his daughter nearby. The Java Shack owner sent out an appeal for support to keep his small Campbell River cafe afloat because he feared new travel and tourism restrictions would force it to close permanently. (Java Shack Cafe/Facebook)

He was not prepared for the reaction.

"People started responding within minutes and by the end of the day, it had been shared hundreds of times," he said. "Within the hour our phone started ringing off the hook. People started lining up outside."

Orders came in such volumes that staff have had to turn customers away and post notices they were at capacity.

Fawbert now has confidence the cafe will survive through the weeks ahead, despite the current ban on indoor table service.

"What's taken place in the last 10 days is we've been able to compress about three to almost four weeks of sales into that short period of time," he said. "If the travel bans only go so far as this May long weekend and then it gets lifted, then the summer should be good."

To hear the full interview with Java Shack owner Chris Fawbert tap the link below:

With files from CBC On the Island