'It hurts': Winnipeg restaurant owner worries roadwork will rip into bottom line
Owner of A and V Drive-In says business has dropped 50 per cent since construction began on Chevrier
A Winnipeg restaurant owner says the construction that has torn up the street in front of his business is taking a chunk out of his bottom line.
"Ever since they started the construction … the business has deteriorated, like literally to 50 per cent [of normal], maybe a little bit more," said Angelo Cavadas, owner of A and V Drive-In on Chevrier Boulevard, just west of Pembina Highway.
"We totally understand the fact that it has to be done … but it's hindering us, it's hurting us, because we depend on a lot of walk-in traffic and drive-up traffic," he said.
Cavadas and his wife have run the business for 14 years, which is only open from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. during the week.
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He says they rely heavily on people who work in the area coming for breakfast on their way to work or during their lunch breaks.
"A lot of people are saying 'I'd rather just go [somewhere else], eat quickly and go back to work,'" said Cavadas.
Customers forced to take long way around
The $7.5-million construction project began a few weeks ago and is set to continue until mid-October.
The work will allow for the creation of a protected bike lane on Chevrier Boulevard, as well as a partial replacement of the street and resurfacing to the remainder.
Chevrier Boulevard between Pembina Highway and Waverley Street is down to one lane, and is limited to westbound traffic only.
This means any A and V customers driving from the west have to travel several kilometres out of their way to get to the diner.
"[Customers] only got a half-hour lunch and it can take up to half an hour, 40 minutes, for the traffic to get moving," said Cavadas.
"So if they're getting stuck in traffic they have no choice [other] than to zoom somewhere else and have their lunch as opposed to coming here."
The diner is in an industrial area south of the Parker lands, an area dedicated to the new rapid transit corridor that will likely be affected by construction for years.
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Cavadas would like to see some kind of compensation or tax break because the construction will last several months.
"Something has to be done, because we can't go on the way it's going," he said.
"Not only myself but there's other businesses down the road that depend on car traffic and walk-up traffic."
The city says it began communicating with businesses affected by the construction in December of last year, and provided them an opportunity to raise questions and concerns about the project.
"The city makes every effort to co-ordinate construction projects and mitigate their impacts as much as possible and is committed to communicating directly with affected businesses and residents," a city spokesperson said in an email.
"The city does not provide compensation or track the number of specific concerns raised by individual businesses," the spokesperson said, adding anyone with concerns can contact 311.
"We appreciate Winnipeggers' patience as we work to complete these important infrastructure projects."
May have to lay off employee
Cavadas worries the construction snarls will put him out of business.
"It hurts. It hurts because we're here day in, day out, Monday to Friday, and we pay our taxes and we pay our bills on time," he said.
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Cavadas and his wife have just two other people working there, one of whom is Cavadas's father. He worries he might have to let the other employee go.
"We might have to lay her off and just my wife and I run the business, but I hope I don't have to," said Cavadas.
'Definitely a negative impact'
Customers say they've noticed there aren't as many people in the diner during peak hours and worry it could hurt the business.
"I don't think this is a super well-known restaurant, but the people who do come here, they really love it," said Mason Anderson, who lives nearby.
He said if people can't make it to the restaurant easily, they will likely go somewhere else.
Seka M'Hango works in the area as well and is a regular customer at the diner. He says the traffic delays caused by the construction are hard on everyone in the area.
"It's definitely a negative impact on small businesses like this," said M'Hango.
"You really have to use your navigational skills to get here."
M'Hango takes the bus to work and has to walk from Pembina Highway.
He says there are no longer any sidewalks to the restaurant, so he can see why people wouldn't want to walk to the restaurant.
He thinks the city should help small businesses in situations like this.
"I'm not against construction but I think that when people are being affected this way, it would be really nice if the city could somehow help them out," he said.
Cavadas says he has no choice but to wait and see how the summer goes. He hopes he'll be able to stay open long enough to see the end of the construction.
"Hopefully I don't get to that point where I have to decide to either close my door or get some funding to help with the business."