WATCH ABOVE: Calgary’s first ever Keg is about to close its door for good. As Tracy Nagai reports it’s another casualty of a slowing economy.
CALGARY – The first Keg restaurant to open in Calgary will shut its doors on Saturday after four decades of business at its Mount Royal location.
On the corner of 11 Avenue and 5 Street S.W., it’s been the quintessential dining experience for many visitors to Calgary. Staff members are particularly sad to see it go.
“It was very tough,” said operations manager Dean Jones. “From when I started my discussion, there were certain staff that broke down immediately and that made it very difficult for me.”
Lance Hurtubise worked at the Keg in the 1980s, when Calgary’s “Electric Avenue” nightclub district was in full swing.
“I thought it was the culture,” said Hurtubise. “George Tidwell, the man who started it, was brilliant. He wanted big football players and he wanted a party so you’d do shots in front of the bar and sing songs and just have a good time. It was a great place to work.”
Hurtubise is now the CEO of the Vintage Group, which runs several restaurants in the city. He says the industry is facing a number of challenges.
“We call it the perfect storm right now: the economy, commodity pricing, minimum wage, foreign worker program, corporate tax program…it goes on and on and on.”
His sentiment is reflected in the latest job numbers from Statistics Canada. The number of unemployed people in Alberta jumped by about 8,700 in July, according to the agency. The province’s unemployment rate increased to six per cent as 4,300 jobs were lost.
“In some ways it’s a bit surprising it hasn’t risen higher, more quickly,” said ATB Financial spokesperson Todd Hirsch. “I do think we will see rising unemployment in the fall as more job losses are likely to come, but overall we’re still below the national average, so the situation could be a lot worse.”
The close knit family of “Keggers” have been offered jobs at other locations as a way to soften the blow in uncertain economic times.
With files from Erika Tucker