Calgary restaurants face uncertain future amid COVID-19 crisis: ‘How far do you let it bleed?’

Click to play video: '‘How far do you let it bleed?’: Calgary restaurants face uncertain future amid COVID-19 crisis' ‘How far do you let it bleed?’: Calgary restaurants face uncertain future amid COVID-19 crisis
WATCH: A number of restaurants in Calgary have announced their permanent closure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Carolyn Kury de Castillo has more on the future of the city's restaurant scene – May 26, 2020
A number of Calgary restaurants will not be reopening again even though COVID-19 restrictions are easing this week.
Rick Cutillo is waiting to see how things go at his newly reopened Citizen Brewing Company near Edmonton Trail. But it’s a different story at his other restaurant in Kensington.
After pouring $100,000 into renovations at Midtown Kitchen and Bar and facing $16,000 a month in rent with little income, he was forced to shut it down.
“We were left with a situation that’s, ‘How far do you let it bleed?'” Cutillo said.
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In Kensington, seven businesses have closed permanently because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including Midtown and Oak Tree Tavern. On 17 Avenue S.W., Buon Giorno, one of the longest surviving restaurants in the city, is now closed.
Restaurants are facing many worrisome questions like how to make money at 50 per cent capacity? Will patrons come back? What if the virus gets worse and they have to close again?
“There is a normal ebb and flow all the time in a business district, and that’s part of what a healthy business district does,” said Annie MacInnis, executive director of the Kensington BRZ. “It changes and evolves and businesses come and go.
“This is a little scarier than the normal ebb and flow.”
On a positive note, MacInnis said that two new restaurants will be opening soon on Kensington, and Indie Counterculture just opened last week.
The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program has been set up to help small businesses cover their rents until June.
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The Alberta Hospitality Association says it’s important for landlords to apply and critical for landlords and tenants to work out a deal.
“I can’t stress this enough, if there’s not that constructive conversation between the landlord and the tenant, I think that will be one of the primary driving factors towards closures,” said Brett Ireland, a board member with the Alberta Hospitality Association.
Longtime Calgary restaurant owner Cam Dobranski is reopening Container Bar in Kensington but says he won’t be able to make money at 50 per cent capacity. It’s uncertain at this point if he will join his colleagues who have shut their doors.
“My heart goes out to them. I just don’t know what to do because we are in the same situation and we could be in trouble. I don’t know. The next couple of weeks will tell really,”  Dobranski said.

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