Pubs and bars are starting to open again in the capital region, but with fewer money-generating seats due to new safety protocols.
Each facility is adapting its space and operating procedures according to new rules and is hoping the economics will work.
The Rooftop Patio at the Strathcona Hotel, 919 Douglas St., opened on Thursday with 110 seats, down from its former capacity of 300, said hotel co-owner Grant Olson.
With a total of 1,600 licensed seats, this is the first step in a gradual opening of facilities, Olson said.
“For right now, we are going to open the roof and make sure we get the protocols all right.”
Tables must be set two metres apart under new government rules, with a maximum of six people per group.
New measures include single-use menus and additional sanitization. The Rooftop Patio’s volleyball courts are closed.
Major improvements have been taking place at the hotel during the COVID-19 shutdown.
The main kitchen is being redone and the facade has been restored on the six-storey 1911 Edwardian commercial style hotel, which is on Canada’s list of historic places.
Olson expects the Sticky Wicket will be the next to open, possibly next week with a limited menu until the kitchen is completed.
Guest rooms have been closed and the hotel will open again when demand picks up, Olson said. “We’ll have all sorts of brand-new rooms and some other things. The place is going to be looking awesome.”
The hotel’s Distrikt club likely won’t open for quite some time, possibly until a vaccine is found, Olson said.
Distrikt’s sold-out shows were moved to fall and have since been rebooked to spring 2021.
When the pandemic hit, the hotel laid off about 190 staff. “Hopefully we can bring a majority of them back as we open up everything,” Olson said.
On the Saanich Peninsula, the Brentwood Bay Resort’s pub opens at 11:30 a.m. today and its Arbutus Room opens for dining on May 29.
Guests will see hand sanitizers at the pub entrance.
Ground markers and decals have been put in place to help everyone follow social-distancing rules. Each table will have one fewer chair than usual to allow servers to easily approach and serve guests, the resort’s website states.
Moon Under Water Brewery Pub and Distillery, 350 Bay St., is serving at 43 seats, down from 95.
It has been open for take-out and off-sales but, as with other licensed operations, had closed its dining room.
A lounge in the distillery is not opening because not enough seats could fit in under the social-distancing rules to make it worthwhile, said Clay Potter, co-owner of the family business.
In the pub, each table will have hand sanitizer made in its distillery, which it has been selling to local businesses, he said.
Moon Under Water has applied to the city of Victoria for a patio licence to convert half of its parking lot into a patio, Potter said. The idea is for customers to order at the bar and move outdoors on days with good weather. Ideally, there would be about 40 seats.
If approved, those seats would help make up for seats lost indoors, Potter said. “It would be a huge help for us if they let us do that.”
Moon Under Water weathered tough times last year when the Bay Street bridge was repaired, closing off through traffic.
Potter said the company has diversified as it faces a permanent change to the business.
A canning line was recently purchased to allow Moon Under Water to evolve into more of a production brewery model.
The most in-demand product “by far” is its Moon Juice, a raspberry sour ale, Potter said. Sour ales are popular right now and Moon Juice is selling through local liquor stores.
Potter has also been setting aside whisky. He said the first barrel will be ready for Christmas.
• For more information on the reopening protocols, go to worksafebc.com