As Quebec City restaurants prepare to reopen, some say they aren't ready

Some restaurateurs in the province's soon-to-be orange zones say the province's announcement that they could reopen was too last-minute for them.

Owners say province's announcement came last-minute and they lack staff, supplies

Restaurants will be allowed to reopen in most of the province Monday, with the exception of those in the Greater Montreal area, Lanaudière and Laurentians. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

As the majority of the province gets ready to scale back on public health restrictions, some restaurateurs are opting to keep their dining rooms closed for a few extra days. 

Starting Monday, most of the province with the exception of the Greater Montreal area, Laurentians and Lanaudière region will become orange zones. 

But while that means restaurants and gyms will be reopening in much of the province, some restaurant owners in Quebec City say the announcement last Wednesday came too late for them to be able to do so on time. 

"Most of my colleagues [and I], we really thought it would be around March 15 [that we could reopen]," said Sylvain Boudreau, owner of Le Galopin restaurant. 

"So I took advantage of March break to do some renovations. All of my production stopped. My entire kitchen is a construction site — I don't even have deliveries." 

On top of lacking supplies and space, Boudreau doesn't have enough staff to be able to reopen by next week. 

"While the industry was shut down, some people developed other skills. Some decided to change career fields altogether," said Boudreau. "So, when we call them back, we start to realize that we've lost some of them." 

Sylvain Boudreau, owner of Le Galopin restaurant in Quebec City, says he is having issues getting enough staff in time to reopen. (Steve Breton/Radio-Canada)

Christopher Létourneau, owner of Le Délice in nearby Lévis, is in a similar boat. It will take a few more days for his restaurant to reopen as his suppliers are delayed. 

"The suppliers don't have the salad, the vegetables, fruits and meats. The beer can't be delivered. So, to think of opening on Monday with two working days to prepare, it's impossible," said Létourneau, who plans to open Wednesday instead. 

But for Miyano Saka, owner of Tora-Ya Ramen in Quebec City, it isn't an issue of time or staff. She decided to keep her business closed when restaurants were allowed to reopen last summer, and will be doing the same now. 

"We figured it was not worthwhile because, with 34 seats, it's a very small space," said Saka. 

"It would be Plexiglass everywhere and it's not nice." 

Saka said she is focusing on the restaurant's takeout option instead, which has proven to be popular over the last year. 

She says she will only reopen once it's safe to have clients seated close together again and when she can achieve the same intimate ambience the restaurant had before the pandemic hit. 

"It was nicer when it was crowded and everyone sat close to each other," said Saka. 

With files from Julia Page and Radio-Canada

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