Outlook for Whyte Avenue businesses bright with vaccine progress in Alberta
EDMONTON -- The economy is starting to bounce back, and one of the biggest rebounds is happening in the hospitality industry. That’s true in Edmonton too.
Things are looking up on Whyte Avenue. There are signs that change is just around the corner.
Inside the iconic Strathcona Hotel, the walls are ready to go and Leopold’s Tavern is set to open its first Edmonton location later this month.
“We're very lucky to be opening and extremely excited,” sad GM Malcolm Rabb.
It's a strip that has been hit hard over the past year. Several pubs and restaurants have closed on Whyte Avenue, including staples like the Funky Buddha.
“When they're operating under reduced capacity, it really hurts them,” said Cherie Klassen of the Old Strathcona Business Association. “But we're seeing some really positive optimism for new businesses coming in.”
Leopold’s isn’t the only new eatery opening up on the avenue. A total of at least seven cafés bars and restaurants either have opened in 2021 here in Old Strathcona, or will open by the end of this month. Those new businesses bring an economic boost, and jobs.
Stats show a rebound has started in the hospitality industry. Food services and accommodations picked up more than 19,000 jobs last month in Alberta, but there's still a long way to go. Over the past year the sector lost nearly 50,000 employees.
“There's no question that our hospitality and retail sectors have taken a big hit,” said Klassen. “In particular, the hospitality sector.”
The upturn coincides with recent news that the arms of Albertans will see needles sooner. The province says everyone who wants a COVID-19 vaccine will have at least one by the end of June.
“Just want to be able to get open, make sure everybody's safe, everybody's having fun,” said Rabb.
That's good timing for a business, and an avenue that thrive on summer foot traffic.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Bill Fortier.