Atlantic Trap and Gill could close this fall, says owner

Faced with rising costs, higher minimum wage and increased taxes, another Calgary business owner is considering closing the doors.

After 18 years in business, increased costs and higher minimum wage cutting into bottom line

After 18 years in business, Atlantic Trap and Gill co-owner Tracy Johnson said increased costs and a rising minimum wage may force her to close the doors this fall. (Atlantic Trap and Gill)

Faced with rising costs, higher minimum wage and increased taxes, another Calgary business owner is considering closing the doors.

Speaking on the Calgary Eyeopener, Atlantic Trap and Gill co-owner Tracy Johnson said this summer could be the last for the popular East Coast-themed pub after 18 years in business.

"I'm taking a hiatus from my salary for the summer and we are going to see what happens," she said. 

"We're going to try and cope, we're going to talk to our landlord and come September we'll make a decision whether to close our doors."

Last month, Farm restaurant owner Janice Beaton was forced to close the popular eatery on 17th Avenue S.W.

"It just really got to the point where we just couldn't go on," Beaton told CBC News.

"We were losing money. People are not eating out as much. All of us who have experienced less sales, it's because we have less customers, let's face it. And I think people still go out, but they may do so more for special occasions or just less frequently."

Escoba Bistro and Wine Bar owner Darren Hamelin has said he is closing at the end of the month due to increased taxes and costs.

Patrons dance at the Atlantic Trap and Gill. After 18 years, its owner said she may be forced to close due to rising costs and an increasing minimum wage. (Atlantic Trap and Gill)

Higher property taxes translated into a 37 per cent increase in Johnson's rent, which coupled with a higher minimum wage could be the tipping point.

Currently sitting at $11.20 an hour — $10.70 an hour for those who serve liquor — minimum wage is set to rise to $15 by 2018.

Costs being cut

"I have taken a 50 per cent pay cut, my sister, who is a single mom of three, has taken about a 15 per cent pay cut," said Johnson.

"We figured out it's going to be another $2,500 a month if the minimum wage is increased that much, and coupled with our property taxes it's just completely unaffordable for us."

Johnson said she and her sister have taken to serving to help cut costs, while the pub's manager also works behind the bar two nights a week.

"We look for savings on everything from toilet paper to chicken wings and I think we've pretty much run out of things to save money on," she said.

Answers unsatisfactory, says owner

Johnson said she contacted both her area MLA and city councillor and didn't like what she heard back.

"My MLA basically said they have nothing to do with property taxes whatsoever," said Johnson. 

A letter to Jonhson on behalf of Calgary-Glenmore MLA Anam Kazim reads in part, "37 per cent is quite a significant hike, so if true what your landlord is saying, this is solely a municipal matter."

"I actually have no idea why the property taxes went up so much because I know our building is not worth as much money as what they're saying it is," said Johnson.

A letter on behalf of Coun. Brian Pincott points out council has asked city staff to compile a range of scenarios from the current 3.2 per cent municipal tax increase to a zero per cent increase and what the effects will be on spending, which is due June 27.

However, t​he city is in the process of phasing out its business tax by consolidating it all into the non-residential property tax.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener