WARMINGTON: Pandemic too difficult for this eatery to duck from

The Muddy Duck on Dundas Street in Mississauga is closing its doors

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This famous duck was able to avoid many attempts to clip its wings over the past four decades.

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No bird can fly forever.

It wasn’t hunters who took down this iconic poultry, orr the latest hot eatery or culinary trend either.

The Muddy Duck on Dundas Street in Mississauga had managed to stay above ground for all comers since 1978.

But then along came COVID-19 and it proved to be the formidable foe the iconic restaurant just couldn’t duck from.

“There were a lot of factors that played into it but definitely the coronavirus was a huge one,” said owner Luis Orozco.

Shutdowns, lockdowns, vaccine passports, a struggling economy, rising food and operations costs and a changing country — and just like that a icon of the west in will fly off into the sunset.

“It was a perfect storm,” said the owner.

They could plan to survive a lot of things but a seemingly never-ending pandemic was not one of them.

“It’s not easy because we love our customers and we love our staff,” said Orozco.

“But with a new lease needing to be signed, it just didn’t make sense with the future of our industry being so uncertain.”

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It’s already hard enough to fill restaurants in the time of a pandemic but after two years of interruptions, it’s near impossible.

Throw in vaccine passport mandates and suddenly some regular customers couldn’t get in.

“I was here yesterday and people came to door and asked if they needed vaccine passport?” said Orozco whose staff told them yes.

The people left the restaurant cordially but that’s an example of something COVID-19 has brought to the reality of running a restaurant in 2021.

Of course that’s only one factor, but an example of a changing landscape.

That’s the bad news. The positive is the Muddy Duck has meant so much to so many for so long.

So many waddled out and did a quack quack to get a picture with mascot Walter out front. So many have pictures of family gatherings there.

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“Everybody is our family,” said Orozco.

“We felt part of so much.”

Birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, Sunday morning breakfasts and sponsoring local sports. If you look on the wall, they still have many of the teams they backed and if you look closer you will see kids who went onto play in the NHL, including Max Domi.

The Muddy Duck — whether you were mayors like Bonnie Crombie, Hazel McCallion or Rob Ford or a famous musician like Kim Mitchell — treated everybody like they were a star.

For the rest of this week and on Saturday and Sunday until 3 p.m., people can drop by for one more Duck Club sandwich or Schnitzel a la Duck and say goodbye to long-time staffers Peter Joedicke, Rachel Ryckman, Theo Arbour, Ponampalm Siuakamaran and Nimala Siuakamaran who are all working hard to finish up this long time restaurant’s run with the same great service and food as it had when it began all of those decades ago.

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“We love people and we love being part of their experiences,” said Orozco.

“It’s difficult to walk away from all of that.”

Perhaps it won’t be forever.

“Maybe we will find another location and re-open again down the road,” said Orozco.

Perhaps the Muddy Duck will one day fly again.

For now, however, it wings off into Mississauga history.

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