With current restrictions being eased, at least somewhat, local restau-rants will again be allowed to have visitors in their dining room, although those numbers will be limited.
At Village Pizza Restaurant and Baja Luna Lounge in Tottenham, owner Bernice Augusto has the distinction of being the longest lasting continuous restaurant owner in Town.
She opened her restaurant 32 years ago right on the Town’s main street and it is one of the most visible and well known businesses in the village.
When the Province-wide lock-down went into effect, Bernice adapted to a new way of doing things to keep her restaurant in business.
She had two major attributes that helped through difficult times.
First of all, she’s owns the building that is home to her restaurant.
Many dining establishments had to close because of the cost of rent.
Secondly, as a pizzeria, Bernice already had delivery as part of her business model so the transition to take out and delivery only, wasn’t a big learning curve.
“I’ve been doing pick-up and delivery the lock-down,” Bernice explained. “That’s something we’ve always had, so we were fortunate. We’ve done it for 32 years so that wasn’t new to us – we already had that service. We had to adjust our hours. I used to be here at noon, but now we’re here from five to nine p.m.”
Even though people will again be allowed to visit the dining room with certain restrictions, restaurant owners must still comply with regulations set out by the Health Department.
“I have to make sure everyone feels safe here,” Bernice explained. “Anyone coming in still has to feel that they are safe from this virus and that everything here is up to code. We use sanitizers, we clean everything after every use and wipe every-thing down after someone comes in.”
The lock-down means Village Pizza had to let staff go and now operates with minimal people and reduced hours.
Even with the current restrictions lifted, Bernice will only be able to seat around one-quarter capacity in her dining room for the time being.
Because of the restrictions, she won’t yet be seating people in the Baja Luna Lounge section.
The lounge quite often has live entertainment which won’t be allowed under the new rules.It has been a difficult year for the restaurant industry in general with the rules having changed several times.
“It’s an understatement to say it’s been difficult,” Bernice said. “But I’m much more blessed than some others. I really sympathize with those that have had to close.”
Fortunately, Village Pizza has maintained a good reputation over the years and has many loyal customers who appreciate the menu and keep coming back – even when it’s just for take-out or deliv-ery.
Now that the dining room will again be open, those customers can once again have the enjoyment of coming in for a meal.
Bernice said she will persevere through the current restrictions because she enjoys what she Village Pizza a town favourite duringrestaurant restrictionsdoes and she is “just too stubborn to give up.”
Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times