Restaurants sizzling mad about continued seating limits

‘It’s like they’re targeting us for some reason’

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They feel like they are being served a raw deal.

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Many of the province’s restaurants are crying foul over increases to capacity limits that do not apply to them.

“It doesn’t make sense what they’re saying, what they’re doing. It doesn’t make sense,” said George Voulgaris, owner of The Black Dog Pub.

Like many restaurant owners, he was shocked by the sudden announcement by the Ford government lifting capacity limits for places such as concert venues, theatres and cinemas, spectator areas for facilities for sports and recreational fitness, meeting and event spaces, and horseracing and car racing tracks.

Restaurants did not make the cut.

They feel burned.

“You’re killing us,” Voulgaris said. “It is like they got one foot on our necks and they’re getting the other one ready to go on our stomachs also.”

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“It is insane. Absolutely wrong. Despicable.” said Larry Isaacs, owner of the Firkin Group of Pubs.

“Everybody is just stunned. And most of the companies I have spoken to — and know of — have had their employees vaccinated as well.”

Isaacs cannot fathom how 18, 000 people are now allowed to sit side by side — often eating and drinking — at a Leaf or Raptors’ game, but restaurants must remain at just half capacity.

“Why are we being punished? I mean, we are the hardest hit industry out of everybody,” Isaacs said.

Not long after Friday’s announcement, Restaurants Canada issued a statement saying it “is extremely disappointed.”

The group said Ontario continues to hurt the hard-hit foodservice industry by leaving restrictions in place.

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“The industry has done everything asked of us, and yet we continue to be singled out,” the lobby group wrote.

It is demanding to see scientific proof restaurants have been common sources of infection.

According to a recent Restaurants Canada survey, 80% of restaurants continue to just break even or lose money.

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After months of hobbling through the pandemic — and even facing struggles attracting staff — restaurants want an immediate break and an extension of aid.

Isaacs said the government should take a broader view that factors in seasonal changes, which are about to take away restaurants’ outside seating options in many cases.

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“Any day now the weather is going to turn and we are going to be heading into winter with limited seating inside,” he said.

“I think it’s pathetic, horrific,” said Voulgaris.

“From the outside looking in, it’s like they’re targeting us for some reason.”

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