Local business struggles as new COVID-19 restrictions come into effect
EDMONTON -- As COVID-19 restrictions for restaurants in Alberta took effect Friday, one local business is left hoping for a summer with in-person dining.
Franz Castro-Wunsch, co-founder of Palette Local Café, told CTV News Edmonton in an interview that the business is struggling to connect with customers because of the pandemic.
Palette focuses on plant-based food, drink, and fresh healthy fare along with featuring local coffees.
The café opened two months ago during the pandemic and has found it difficult to get the word out about their unique menu and coffee.
“Unfortunately it has not been quite as busy as we would’ve liked,” Castro-Wunsch said, who opened Palette as his first business.
He added that the business hoped the second wave would mark the end of restrictions limiting in-person dining – the main source of their income.
Now that restrictions no longer permitting in-person dining have been reinstated by the province, Castro-Wunsch worries about how Palette will last long-term.
“Everyone in the restaurant and hospitality industry… is just trying to keep up with the changes and we are doing the same,” he said.
“We are okay for a few months, but if things don’t turn around and we don’t start to get more traction it could get more nerve-wracking for us.”
For Castro-Wunsch, it is difficult for businesses to balance the need for restrictions with their bottom line.
“COVID is a really serious problem… and so we really want to do our part to try and help to not increase transmissions.
“However, for small businesses it’s definitely tricky and cuts into our only customers and makes it hard for us.”
Another difficulty is finding government supports that Palette Local Café qualifies for since they only opened two months ago.
“It’s tricky. So, if you were a business that was established and you can prove that you’ve had that drop in revenues due to COVID then you can get some kind of support through Alberta or the federal government.
“Since we are a newer company we are not able to prove that,” Castro-Wunsch said. “We are kind of falling through the cracks in terms of financial support.”
Castro-Wunsch hopes that the summer months will see more foot traffic as people enjoy Whyte Avenue.
“I’m hoping just a couple more months will take us there. It’s not a lot for us to kind of get to that break-even point. Honestly, if it was just five to 10 more customers a day will get us there.”