On March 16, Moco Downtown, a restaurant in downtown Fredericton, celebrated four years in business.
A day later it was closing its doors and laying off its staff as a result of COVID-19.
“Closing our restaurant is the hardest thing we’ve had to do,” said Shawna Foster, the restaurant’s owner.
Now, determined to survive, the owners of the rustic Italian restaurant have converted their office into a takeout window and installed a patio.
“In order to pivot and make the change we decided to open Bella MoCo to Go,” said Foster
The changes are a result of a Canadian Business Resilience Network Small Business Relief Fund grant she applied to through the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Salesforce.
Across Canada, 1,100 small businesses applied for the $10,000 grant.
“In the Atlantic region there were eight businesses that were selected to receive one of the 62 grants, there were only three in New Brunswick and only one right here in Fredericton,” said Krista Ross The Fredericton Chamber of Commerce CEO.
After months of lost income, the ability to ease the financial load of COVID-19 was a shock for Foster.
“Sometimes miracles do happen,” said Foster
Recipients like Forst presented a plan on how they would allocate the money to best sustain the business’s recovery in a 750-word essay. Staff at MoCo call it Foster’s $10,000 letter.
In the sombre essay, Foster said that the current climate made guests nervous and said her sales revenue had dropped by 75 per cent.
“As a community, we need to support our local businesses if we want them to be able to exist during these times and be here when the pandemic is finished and we don’t know how long that will be,” said Ross.
Shawna is confident Bella MoCo to Go will fill in the take out gap and she says the money will go a long way.
“It keeps paycheques in our staff’s hands and it just makes life, a little easier to breathe,” said Foster