Restaurants and bars face uncertain future amidst first-ever LCBO strike

By Josh Piercey

It’s usually the busiest time of the year for local restaurants and bars, with beer and mixed drinks flowing underneath the hot sun on a local patio.

Now, nearly one week into the ongoing LCBO strike, restaurants and bars are having a difficult time keeping taps flowing.

According to Kelly Higginson, CEO of Restaurants Canada, the LCBO promised 168 different product items available for online order. As of Wednesday morning, Higginson said there were only six items available and no vodka.

The LCBO had intended to open five distribution centres to help distribute alcohol to restaurants, bars, hotels, convention centres, and other licensees across the province, but that idea was scrapped due to the threat of picketing at those locations.

Higginson added that many local restaurants rely heavily on alcohol sales as part of their total revenue.

“It can be up to 30 to 40 per cent of their revenue,” said Higginson.

Brandon Court, the owner of The Civil in downtown Kitchener, says he anticipated the strike and stocked his shelves beforehand.

“We saw the writing on the walls,” said Court. “We really stocked up ahead of time and haven’t had any shortages yet.”

Court noted that his business has seen an uptick in customers since the start of the strike, as people lack the means to make cocktails at home.

Higginson added that if there isn’t a resolution to the strike in the next week or so, it could have long-lasting impacts on local establishments.

“If there is not a solution and some sort of priority focus on the needs of this industry, we might be actually feeling some of the pain and suffering well into the fall.”

Higginson stressed that it’s vitally important to get out to support local restaurants and bars. They might not have every drink available, but they have products, and most importantly, they are open.

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