Top Vancouver chef pleads with government to bring back indoor dining
VANCOUVER -- Hawksworth in downtown Vancouver is consistently rated as one of Canada’s top fine dining restaurants.
But with the 100-seat dining room now closed and a tiny sidewalk patio that can only sit eight people, it’s had to pivot to offer more take-out friendly options.
“We have had to change our menu here at Hawksworth to offer everything from a turkey club to beautiful vegan lentil soups and stuff like that,” said restaurateur and chef David Hawksworth, adding “We will do whatever we can to survive.”
With the government expected to extend the current ban on indoor dining through the May long weekend, Hawksworth wonders how he will pay his $50,000 a month rent.
“We’ll be lucky to do $1,000 a day here in revenue, and we still have to pay staff,” he said. “I will have to borrow money to stay alive and to keep it all going. And banks are not lining up to make this happen for the restaurant industry either.”
So Hawksworth is pleading with the provincial health officer to allow for indoor dining again, with precautions in place.
“I think they need to use common sense and let restaurants operate as they did a month ago,” he said.
But Dr. Bonnie Henry says the restrictions changed because customer behaviour started to change.
“People were pushing the limits, not wanting to limit it to six people per table, wanting to get together and congregate at the end of the night,” said Henry.
While restaurants can now apply for the one-time “Circuit Breaker Grant” of up to $10,000, Hawksworth said that will do little to help his bottom line.
“That’s nothing,” he said. “If they’re going to shut us down, then just make it possible that we can survive and not lose money. So just make us whole.”
Even if he has to take on debt to keep his award-winning restaurant afloat, Hawksworth says he’s determined to keep the doors open.
“I will fight to the death on this,” he said. “I love Vancouver, I love what we do. I’m here to stay, I’m not going anywhere.”