Taking Care of Business: Small businesses are the heart and soul of your neighbourhood

A commentary by the managing partner of Fireside Grill, 4509 West Saanich Rd. A reboot of our continuing series on the impact of COVID-19 on local businesses. Six months after a lockdown and re-opening, business people share the experience and their views on moving forward.

When I first wrote a piece in the Times Colonist almost five months ago, the world looked a bit more dire and frightening than it does today. While life is far from normal, everyone has begun to adapt to what experts define as “the new normal.”

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The tourism industry has been hit hard by this pandemic and many restaurants are ­suffering. People have asked how things are going for us at Fireside Grill and I’m happy to say that we have pivoted and adapted well. Is it easy? ­Absolutely not, but we have an amazing local following. The support of our friends and neighbours has been amazing and has helped us to weather these tough times.

Local customers have always been the foundation of our business model. We want our customers to enjoy fantastic food and service in an inviting setting. And because we believe that our customers are an extension of our family, it’s especially important that we ensure that their needs are taken care of. Is the dining experience exactly the same as it was pre-COVID? No it’s not, but the good food and friendly service is. So, instead of focusing on all of the negatives that have come from COVID, Fireside Grill decided to focus on some of the positives.

This pandemic has taught us to look after one another, to be kind and to be grateful. Fireside knows that every penny counts for our customers these days and we appreciate their patronage. We also appreciate that our customers are supporting our local business because when they support us, we can support other local businesses in the community.

Local businesses like ours might be open now, but none of us is out of the woods yet. Our operating costs are higher and we’ve had to adapt by offering takeout and delivery services. Many businesses are relying on government programs to stay afloat until business levels return to normal. The constant changes and uncertainty surrounding these programs have been challenging to navigate.

With winter coming and the possibility of a second wave of COVID looming, our local ­community needs to band together. We need our ­neighbours to continue to ­support their local businesses. We also need our customers to be kind, flexible and adaptable. People are stressed and people are anxious, but everyone is doing their best to get through this and we will — if we do it together!

When considering your next evening out, your next purchase or how you spend your hard earned dollars, please consider supporting a local business. Do your part and give them a shot at keeping their doors open and their families thriving. Help your local business to prosper. By supporting local, you help to sustain the neighbourhoods that we all enjoy and love so much.

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How is your business doing? Let our readers know with a personal commentary. Send a submission in 500 words for consideration to: dkloster@timescolonist.com

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