EDMONTON -- There's growing concern among the restaurant industry that small business owners don’t have the resources needed to reopen as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

new survey by Restaurants Canada found 70 per cent of respondents have serious concerns about managing expenses like rent and vendor payments over the next three months.

The survey also showed about 20 per cent of independent restaurants are dealing with a landlord unwilling to provide any type of rent relief.

According to Restaurants Canada, 14 per cent of independent restaurants haven’t been able to pay rent for the month of April and nearly 20 per cent aren’t able to pay rent for May.

The not-for-profit association is calling on the Alberta government to provide support for the food service industry to reopen.

“The resiliency of our industry won’t be enough to ensure Alberta’s 11,200 restaurants remain viable in the face of insufficient cash flow and insurmountable debt,” said Mark Von Schellwitz, vice-president of western Canada for Restaurants Canada.

“The province needs to come to the table with a package of solutions to help these mostly small and medium-sized businesses stay afloat as they ramp up their operations.”

Restaurants Canada says Alberta’s food service industry represented 3.4 per cent of the province’s Gross Domestic Product, before the COVID-19 crisis began, at $12 billion.

The association is worried that if conditions don’t see an improvement sales could be down by as much as $2.2 billion for the second quarter of this year and says roughly 95,000 jobs could be lost.

The Restaurants Canada survey was held between May 1-5.

A total of 890 surveys were completed by Canadian foodservice operators, representing nearly 12,000 locations.

The Canadian commercial foodservice industry has a total of 97,500 establishments across the country. 


Restaurants will be allowed to reopen — albeit at 50 per cent capacity and with several heath guidelines to follow — on May 14.

Places like the Spotlight Cabaret and Tres Carnales are looking forward to next Thursday.

"We're excited to get back into it," Aimee Beaudoin at Spotlight Cabaret told CTV News Edmonton. "It's not really for the profit at this point. It's about paying our rent on Whyte Avenue."

Tres Carnales co-owner Chris Sills said welcoming customers back will be interesting and challenging.

"We definitely have to proceed with caution," Sills said. He added staff will likely wear masks and gloves.

But not all restaurants are opening their dining rooms right away. Cartago, located in Forest Heights, has decided to wait for safety reasons. The same goes for Meat and Next Act, owned by the same group.