VANCOUVER -- Moose’s Down Under has been saved from closure, at least for this month, thanks to the generosity of people online.

The Aussie-themed restaurant in downtown Vancouver has become a home away from home for Australian expats for 25 years, but the pandemic has hit the business hard.

Owner, Corina Aquino says the restaurant’s sales are down to about $300 a day, which is about 25 per cent of what business was pre-pandemic.

“Luckily I’ve got a good landlord that’s told me not to panic about the rent but eventually I’ll have to pay him back,” Aquino told CTV News. “If this goes on for much longer I don’t even know if I can afford to pay him back.”

Aquino says she has been able to keep the business above water for most of the pandemic, but the latest round of restrictions have hit hard. Moose’s is located downtown and down a flight of stairs with no patio, which means its only source of income has been take-out which has been “extremely slow.”

Hearing of Aquino’s situation, a loyal customer started a GoFundMe to raise money to help pay the bills. It’s been online for a few months but Aquino only shared it publicly last week.

“I was a bit embarrassed about it, but then she encouraged me to put it up,” Aquino said. “It took me a couple of weeks to get the courage to do it, but I eventually did it.”

The page has now raised almost $20,000. 

“At least for this month, I’m able to pay all the bills that needed to be paid, I’m actually able to pay the landlord for this month,” Aquino said. “It's heart wrenching ‘cause we’ve poured our heart and soul into this place for 25 years.”

Aquino gets emotional when talking about the support she’s received from the community.

“I’m so humbled by the comments that people have made and how much they’re donating,” she said. “I realise it’s a hard time for everyone else and we’re all in this boat together and ... I do really appreciate everything everyone has done for me and my husband.”

Aquino says she’s expanding her menu as much as she can to try and survive another extension of indoor dining restrictions.