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Restaurant curfew puts damper on service during day one of reopening

King's Head Pub. Randall Paull/Global News

As soon as the doors unlocked Saturday at the King’s Head Pub, customers were ready to walk back into what owner Chris Graves calls “an extension of your living room.”

“First customer was Doug, he came in to watch the Euros right at 11 o’clock,” Graves said.

Inside was mostly used for patio overflow according to Graves, who said the only word to describe the looks on customers’ faces was happiness.

“You could just see the relief,” Graves said.

It wasn’t all stress-free as Manitobans flocked to local watering holes for the first time since May 9.

Behind the scenes, there were some mixed emotions.

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“We had about a 40-person wait to get in, and turned down probably about 300 people,” said owner of Tommy’s Pizzeria, Thomas Schneider.

While he was thankful for his large patio, Schneider added he had customers asking why they couldn’t be seated even though tables were empty.

“They didn’t understand,” the owner said.

A sentiment was echoed by Graves, who said the 10 p.m. curfew for restaurants that requires them to cut-off in-house dining and drinks will leave them struggling for a little while longer.

“When we have to get everybody out at 10 o’clock — it’s difficult, and for places like us, that’s when we really start to make our money, in that 9 o’clock range,” said Graves.

In a statement to Global News, Executive Director of the Manitoba Restaurant and Foodservices Association Shaun Jeffrey said that the rule will be reviewed with Manitoba Health soon.

“That timeline for closure has very little requirement in an outdoor environment and indoor we are restricted to household only and fully vaccinated guests,” Jeffrey said.

The executive director added he expects the rule to be lifted as Manitoba gets closer to its second phase of reopening in July.

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