Alta. restaurant that accepted dog photos instead of QR code has history of 'flagrant disregard' for measures: former employee
A former employee and customer of the Red Deer restaurant that made international headlines for taking dog photos as proof of vaccination claim the restaurant has always been relaxed when it comes to COVID-19 mandates.
Last week, Alberta Health Services ordered The Granary Kitchen to close after an investigation determined restaurant staff let people in after they showed a picture of a dog instead of a QR code or negative test.
On Jan. 11, AHS said two test shoppers, at separate times, were able to enter the restaurant after they showed a picture of a dog instead of their QR codes.
Since June 2, 2020, AHS said it has received 29 complaints regarding The Granary Kitchen. Of those, eight have been concerns related to the restaurant's implementation of the province's Restrictions Exemption Program.
A former employee at The Granary Kitchen, who wished to remain anonymous out of safety concerns, said management rarely enforced COVID-19 protocols.
“It’s not a secret amongst Red Deer individuals, and people in the industry, that this place was run a little bit looser than others,” he said.
“It was just a matter of time before the flagrant disregard towards the mandates was going to be caught.”
The Granary Kitchen did not return requests for comment, but in a Facebook post last Friday, the restaurant called the whole ordeal “an unfortunate circumstance at our front door which involved one of our underage hostesses, and the requirements for the REP program.”
“That’s an absolute joke," the former employee said. "It’s not surprising that they would have someone to take the blame instead of putting it on themselves."
“No one there would be surprised that they found a scapegoat to easily put forward to the media.”
On Saturday, a protest against vaccine mandates was held outside The Granary Kitchen’s doors. In a Facebook post, the restaurant owner’s wife said, “Whatever you had planned today…change. If there was a time to stand & PROTEST…this would be the day. Join Patrick and our family. This IS about YOUR family too!! Come on church!!!!!!!! Rise!!!!!!!!!”
'WE ALL HAVE TO FOLLOW HEALTH GUIDELINES'
One former customer told CTV News that, on numerous occasions, he was allowed in without staff scanning his QR code.
Another former patron who also wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution claimed that when indoor dining was banned in early 2021, she saw that the Granary Kitchen’s parking lot was packed but no one on the patio. She tweeted about it and the restaurant denied the claim.
“Then I started getting a few DMs from random people, saying the same thing like, ‘Leave these people alone. You’re a horrible person.’”
The former customer and health-care worker said she actually went to the restaurant initially to support local business. But, she was left frustrated when it was evident to her that staff were not complying with COVID-19 protocols.
“It’s just so inappropriate for a business to act that way. We all have to follow health guidelines. I don’t know why they think they’re the exception,” she said.
The restaurant next door, Cilantro and Chive, which has been enforcing the rules, received numerous one-star reviews over the weekend.
Cilantro and Chive’s owner did not want to comment.
The former customer said the constant harassment people are facing when critiquing The Granary Kitchen is why she wanted to remain anonymous and why so many people are afraid to speak up.
“They’re very aggressive people. I think they don’t have a lot of boundaries, to be honest. I just don’t trust what they would do.”
According to AHS, The Granary Kitchen’s owner met with Environmental Public Health on Monday afternoon and showed that the restaurant had met the requirements outlined in the order.
The order was verbally rescinded, and The Granary Kitchen has reopened.
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