Despite being a larger company, Joseph Richard Group with several restaurants in Langley, hasn’t been immune to the impact of COVID-19. (Search + Rescue Marketing Agency)

Hospitality workers in Langley hit hard by COVID-19

Restaurant and hotel industries rely on government aid to keep staff on payroll

It may be no surprise that COVID-19 has impacted virtually every industry on the planet, many negatively, including the hospitality industry right here in Langley – but what may be of surprise is how the latest numbers from the government indicate an alarming number of establishments may never bounce back.

More than 60 per cent of Canada’s restaurants risk having to close their doors permanently by November, according to government data provided by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

It’s a challenge but local restaurant owners are managing, said Colleen Clark, CEO of the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce.

“Support them as much as you can now because if you don’t they won’t be here,” she said about the local establishments.

Aaron Turkstra, who operates Annora Restaurant in Langley City, said sales have decreased over 50 per cent since the start of the pandemic at their shop.

“I have heard from other restaurant owners, sales are down for them as some people are still afraid to dine out,” he said. “It has been hard on catering too as there can be no groups over 50. I have heard many events were cancelled and postponed.”

After the provincial health officials re-introduced dine-in service restaurants were able to welcome back guests, but things haven’t returned to normal.

The larger restaurants have been able to better navigate the new COVID-19 protocols having more indoor dining space for guests, Clark said. But is it the small “mom and pop” spaces that are struggling.

“People still aren’t coming into sit as much as they (restaurant owners) would like, they’re finding [customers are] still doing a lot of takeout,” she relayed.

Ryan Moreno, CEO of Joseph Richard Group (JRG), who operates restaurants in the Township called the statistics about the industry “scary.”

“Some pretty crazy statistics about some of the smaller restaurants and just the industry in general, how many may close… so it’s pretty scary and sad at the same time,” he said.

Despite being a larger operation JRG hasn’t been immune to tumult caused by COVID-19.

“It was probably one of the worst days of my career on the 16th of March, where we had to essentially shut the company down… we have over 1,000 employees so you’re laying off a lot of people,” Moreno recalled.

JRG was prepared to re-hire staff after the government introduced programs to support businesses, but the company was surprised with the response.

“We tried to do that,” said Moreno.

But some were “scared and not feeling comfortable to come back to work,” while others collecting the $2,000 Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) decided to “enjoy summer,” Moreno explained.

“When you go from having to let everybody go, and then we were super excited to bring people back and not everybody wanted to come back – ‘We’re like what?’” he recalled.

“In a lot of ways [CERB] helped a lot of people… a lot of people needed it,” Moreno noted that many have families to look after.

Clark believes CERB has also played a role in the retail and service industry where some have found it challenging to fill full-time work in the community, noting that parents are also waiting to see how school will look this year.

However, hotel workers have been fighting to return to work.

On Wednesday, hotel workers on strike outside the constituency office of Tourism Minister Lisa Beare in Maple Ridge were expected to end their demonstration after a response on Monday from Labour Minister Harry Bains.

Unite Here Local 40 has been pushing for government to protect 50,000 hotel jobs across the province, as some businesses are firing long-term staff, they said.

Bains committed to support workers by getting them back to work.

But Moreno said the future of the industry remains unclear.

“That’s anybody’s best guess,” he said.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATE: Teen missing since early Monday in Langley has been found

Police released information about a 14-year-old girl who has been found safe

Canada West Golf Championships cancelled due to COVID-19 travel restrictions

UBC, UBC-O, UFV and UVic athletes will not hit the links this year, Kelowna was set to host

Trans-Canada twinning project between 216th and 264th Streets on schedule for 2021

Commuter said more work needs to be focused on 264th Street exit in Aldergrove

CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Sept. 20

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Dozens of Canadian venues to light up red in support of entertainment workers

Local facilities among dozens across Canada to participate in Light Up Live

Vancouver Island sailor stranded in U.S. hospital after suffering massive stroke at sea

Oak Bay man was attempting to circumnavigate the world solo

Majority needed to pass COVID-19 budget, B.C. premier says

John Horgan pushes urgent care centres in first campaign stop

Most Read