Shawn Harnett has been scrambling to organize a take-out service, powerwash the restaurant’s patio, and move tables and furniture outside following the March 19 announcement. Patrick Penner / Mission Record.

Shawn Harnett has been scrambling to organize a take-out service, powerwash the restaurant’s patio, and move tables and furniture outside following the March 19 announcement. Patrick Penner / Mission Record.

Unexpected indoor-dining restrictions putting Mission restaurants at risk, owners say

Lost inventory, substantial layoffs, anxiety follow March 19 announcement of three-week suspension

Shawn Harnett had just finished packing a few thousand dollars worth of food into his restaurant’s cooler when he heard a new round of COVID-19 restrictions would prohibit indoor dining.

Mission’s Scratch Restaurant, Patio and Lounge opened just two weeks ago, after having delayed opening its doors for a year due to the first wave of the pandemic.

“Without them giving us any notice, they just put my whole inventory at risk,” Harnett said, adding $12,000 worth of food sits in the cooler, ready to be cooked. “That’s enough to put us under if we couldn’t sell it.

“I don’t think it could have been worse timing.”

On March 29, the provincial government announced a three-week suspension on all indoor dining and liquor sales, as well as indoor adult group fitness and religious services. Dr. Bonnie Henry called the move a “circuit breaker” to stop a recent spike in COVID cases.

The announcement put Harnett into a scramble to organize a take-out service, powerwash the restaurant’s patio, and move tables and furniture outside. And even though they have substantial deck space, he said they’re still halving the number of patrons they can serve.

“We have to move fast,” he said. “The community is behind us, they’re donating like patio heaters, but at the end of the day we’re going to need to make money.”

The restaurant has laid off 80 per cent of its staff, keeping only four on, according to Harnett.

Kerry Martin, the restaurateur of The Blackberry Kitchen, said he was surprised to hear the news, considering how the province has been touting dining establishments for their adaptation to safe COVID-19 practises.

“This one caught me off guard, I wasn’t expecting this at all,” he said.

Unlike Harnett’s restaurant, The Blackberry Kitchen doesn’t have the option of immediately opening its patio until the warmer months arrive, as it’s uncovered and catches a lot of wind, Martin said.

They’re going to focus on their take-out canteen in Fraser River Heritage Park, he said, but it doesn’t come close to supplanting the lost income for indoor service.

Martin said if he’d known what the province had coming ahead of time, he could have saved thousands by reducing or cancelling his orders.

“It’s financially decimating, especially after being financially impacted negatively (during the pandemic). This is quite a severe blow,” he said, adding they’ve had to layoff, or reduce hours for a dozen staff members.

Both restaurateurs said they’re wary of the length of the suspension, and worry about it being extended beyond April 19.

Harnett said he doesn’t understand why indoor dining was targeted, as he sees more COVID-19 health violations out shopping in public than in restaurants.

“I was just at Costco and it’s packed and people are touching oranges and putting them back, standing shoulder to shoulder,” Harnett said. “While I’m going bankrupt, Costco will be cashing huge profits.”


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here



Just Posted

Mission mayoral candidate – Earl Babich

Candidates answer three questions about issues impacting Mission

Facebook photo.
Southbound crash on Abbotsford-Mission Bridge

Crash involves dump truck and at least one other vehicle, emergency crews on scene

CTTV footage released by the Abbotsford Police Department.
Abbotsford Police looking to identify gas station bandit

Man commits 2 robberies in 2 days, makes off with cash and cigarettes

Fire breaks out inside Mission Walmart

Customers, staff evacuated as firefighters investigate

Japanese Canadian citizens being transferred into waiting trucks outside Hope Station House. NNMCC L2021-2-1-004. Photographs courtesy of the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre
Fight continues for historic Hope Station House

Ombudsman report and stop work order come alongside district’s move to remove heritage status

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

Doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine in a freezer trailer, to be transported to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canada’s incoming supply of Moderna vaccine slashed in half through end of April

Moderna plans to ship 650,000 doses of its vaccine to Canada by the end of the month, instead of the expected 1.2 million

Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks about the province’s COVID-19 vaccine plans during a news conference at the legislature in Victoria. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
P.1 variant likely highest in B.C. due to more testing for it: Dr. Henry

Overall, just under 60% of new daily cases in the province involve variants

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Dr. Bonnie Henry – in a B.C. health order that went into effect April 12 – granted WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce workplace closures with COVID-19 spread. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
24 workplace closures being enforced in Fraser Health under new COVID-19 order

WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce closures if COVID-19 has spread to 3 or more employees

Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue were conducting training operations at Gold Creek Falls when a firefighter broke their leg. (Eileen Robinson photo - Special to The News)
Firefighter suffers broken leg during swift water rescue practice in Golden Ears park

A training exercise at Maple Ridge waterfall on Wedesday results in mishap

Most Read