A local grocery chain that flouted the laws requiring them to stay closed on statutory holidays was visited by two notable guests on Canada Day – one of whom was more welcome than the other.
Food Fare’s Ramsey Zeid told Global News that his Portage Avenue location was promptly visited by representatives of the Manitoba Labour Board upon opening its doors Monday.
The store’s manager, he said, was told he needed to hand over personal details about all employees working that day, or face a $1,000 per-person fine, on top of a larger fine for opening on the holiday.
Food Fare, which faced similar fines for defying the laws on Good Friday earlier this year, refused to give up the information.
Zeid said the company is still waiting for a court date for that earlier violation, and that he fully expects a second summons is forthcoming.
The second notable visitor was a Hollywood actor filming in Winnipeg, who was just looking for some groceries and was unaware of the Canada Day opening ban.
“At the Maryland location, Sean Penn actually came in and did a large shop,” said Zeid. “We had a little conversation with him and he was actually shocked how hard it was to find a grocery store that was open.
“He said, ‘I’ve been everywhere, and it’s never been this hard to find a grocery store that was actually open on a holiday.
“He was very down to earth. He had one other person with him, he talked to many customers, he took some photos… he was a very nice guy.”
Zeid said Food Fare will continue to defy the rules, despite penalties, because of the principle of the protest.
He said he doesn’t understand why casinos can stay open 24 hours a day, why cannabis stores seem to be able to set their own hours, and why Liquor Marts can stay open during holidays… but a grocery store providing necessities has to keep its doors closed.
“At the end of the day, it’s the right thing to do,” he said.
WATCH: ‘It’s quadrupled;’ Food Fare owner says brazen thefts not limited to Manitoba Liquor Marts