The Calgary Journal
The Calgary Journal

The Alberta government is allowing restaurants to open for dine-in service in phase one of the economic relaunch as early as May 25, after being closed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but a seeming majority of restaurants throughout Calgary have decided to remain closed to the public, while a handful will be opening as soon as possible. 

Restaurants that do choose to open will need to adhere to a variety of new government guidelines, including requiring serving staff wear masks, only allowing 50 per cent seating capacity and arranging tables and chairs to meet the minimum two metres of distance. 

Creative Restaurants Group, which runs numerous restaurants across Calgary and Banff, including Bonterra Trattoria, Cibo 17th and Posto Pizzeria, has elected to keep all of their establishments closed for dine-in service for the time being.

Glen Manzer, executive chef and operations manager for the group, says the decision ultimately comes down to safety.

 

“The government can say 50 per cent occupancy but with social distancing, you can’t get that many people in your building.”

 

“We didn’t feel that one week of time to have [the staff] come back was enough to figure out the social distancing and get the room ready.”

He also suggests that despite the government allowing 50 per cent occupancy, their restaurants are forecasted to be operating at closer to 30 or 35 per cent when they open. 

“The government can say 50 per cent occupancy but with social distancing, you can’t get that many people in your building.”

Posto Pizzeria is particularly small, and Manzer predicts only being able to arrange four or five tables of two when they do ultimately decide to open back up. 

“We’re not doing any dine-in, until probably July 3,” says Manzer, adding the plan is for all of their restaurants to open the same day. 

On the other hand, CRAFT Beer Market is among the restaurants choosing to open its doors right away, originally planning for May 14 before the Alberta government announced that restaurants will be forced to wait until the 25th in Calgary. 

“We are fortunate to have a large restaurant that is comparable in size to some grocery stores,” said PJ L’Heureux, president and founder of CRAFT, in a press release.

He says this will allow them to implement the appropriate measures to maintain safe distances between guests while they are dining. 

Along with the required distance, they will be adding hand sanitizer to each table, a low-contact section allowing patrons to order via a mobile app, digital and single-use menus, and the installation of foot handles on all bathroom doors. 

“We understand that there is a lot of uncertainty for people as we navigate the new normal and we are here whenever people are ready to dine out again,” says L’Heureux. 

Other restaurants that will be opening as soon as possible include GRETA Bar, all of The Canadian Brewhouse locations and the Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant, while establishments such as Modern Steak, Native Tongues and The Park Kitchen and Bar will be without dine-in service for a while longer. 

In the meantime, for those who prefer to dine at home, Manzer says that Creative Restaurants Group’s Cibo 17th will remain open for delivery and pickup, with Bonterra and Posto beginning to do the same on June 3. 

Cibo has been kept open for delivery and pickup since April 2, after briefly being closed for two and half weeks.

“Four of us just started doing it out of Cibo to keep busy and I guess a little bit active. It’s actually helped actually, kept me sane.”