Ancaster restaurants adapt to environment

News Jul 24, 2020 by Kevin Werner Ancaster News

Restaurants have experienced the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic after being one of the first industries to close down. Locally, Ancaster’s Pub Fiction was preparing for a new look when it was forced to shut its doors in March.

So, with the city moving into Stage 3 of the province’s reopening plan, the popular restaurant’s owner Mark Hodge is looking forward to getting back to some sense of normalcy.

The new rules, starting July 24, will mean adding an additional 50 seats to his establishment for indoor dining, along with the 60 seats that he can accommodate on his patio.

“I think it will help,” said Hodge.

Awnish Srivastava, owner of Unique Restaurant Group that includes Southcote 53 Tap and Grill, said having a large patio, expanding it onto the grass area, has proved fortunate for his restaurant business, located on Garner Road.

“It allowed us to accommodate guests while being able to social distance effectively,” he said.

Srivastava said Southcote revamped its menu, focusing on Won ton Nachos, Chicken Wings, Fish and Chips and pizza plus new and improved items such as spinach dip, tempura shrimp, Big Kahuna burger and Chipotle Beer-B-Q baby back ribs.

The restaurant opened the patio on the weekend for breakfast that has proved a popular event.

“It’s been an adjustment for everyone, from sanitizing and health and safety measures to wearing masks and other PPE while dealing with a long string of 40-degree plus heat,” he said.

He said the restaurant is preparing for Stage 3, but “unfortunately our industry has a long way to go with restrictions on capacity and entertainment and so on,” he said.

Jaced Keleci, of Sammy’s Bar and Restaurant, said his business has weathered the uncertainty so far. His customers rediscovered his “massive” patio when the city entered Stage 2, which allowed outdoor eating.

“We are alive,” said Keleci, after he was closed for nearly three months. “The restaurant will come back.”

His customers have “loved” the patio and they were there as soon as the city allowed outdoor dining, he said.

In the days leading up to July 24, Keleci was still considering whether to allow indoor dining during Stage 3.

It’s a sentiment that other businesses are wrestling with as they protect their staff, while also providing a safe environment for customers, said Ancaster Business Improvement Area chair Jennifer Mattern.

She said Ancaster restaurants are adapting to the new environment with its restrictions by expanding patios and offering takeout, such as Brewers Blackbird and Cavallo Nero on Wilson Street.

“It is good to see,” she said. “I have had to learn all about COVID and public health guidelines. It has been something. Businesses have had to adapt in this uncertain environment.”

Andiamo Italian food truck owner Alex Woodley-Batogh knows all about adapting to a changing marketplace. He had been a welcome presence at the Ancaster Farmers’ Market in 2019 and committed to the 2020 season but when the market closed and the pandemic hit, he had to scramble to survive.

“We found a good niche,” he said. “We are not travelling far. We are also adapting to weddings that are smaller in size, transitioning to intimate events.”

He has found some success online, creating prepared meals for pickup and returning to the farmers’ market on Wednesdays at the Ancaster Fairgrounds.

With Stage 3, Woodley-Batogh doesn’t see it helping him too much since it still prevents large gatherings from happening. Businesses isn’t enough for him to hire staff, so it’s just him dishing out locally sourced food from his truck.

“We have to find new ways to earn revenue, at less cost,” he said. “I can’t see how restaurants are doing it. Even at half capacity, it would be hard to make money. But I’m hanging in there.”

Restaurant Canada officials say that 800,000 food service jobs have been lost during the pandemic in the country, with 300,000 of those in Ontario. Also, one in 10 restaurants have permanently closed in Canada and about 18 per cent could close if conditions don't improve.

One business that will not be opening at this time in Ancaster is Cineplex in the Meadowlands. The company is still negotiating with the provincial government to expand the 50-person limit for individual theatres.

Katie Rankin, spokesperson for Cineplex, said: “We don’t have any news to share about Hamilton theatres reopening right now.

“Our top priority has always been the health and safety of our employees and guests and ensuring that their time with us is safe, comfortable and welcoming.”

When he closed in March, Hodge was seeing a 63 per cent jump in business in January and February and was preparing for a successful March and April with additional bookings for parties and an $80,000 upgrade to the restaurant’s interior.

But when the pandemic hit, he closed his business, while dealing with high debt and a landlord that was insisting all businesses in the plaza pay their rent.

Hodge had to adapt to a quickly changing food environment and started to offer takeout with his new pizza oven. He landed a catering contract, and when Hamilton entered Stage 2, his patio was ready to welcome back customers. His Toronto-based landlord also relented and provided support to Pub Fiction, along with the rest of the tenants in the plaza.

“We have loyal clientele who have been great for us,” he said. “Our takeout has been doing well and the patio has been pretty good.”

Hodge had to lay off his 29-person staff, but slowly he has welcomed them back. He said his chef, and kitchen manager and some other key personnel have grown “very close” during these often difficult times as they navigated the difficult business waters to stay afloat.

“They have done a fantastic job,” he said.


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: We wanted to find out how Ancaster restaurants are adapting to the province's Stage 3 reopening guidelines which permit limited in-person dining with physical distancing.

Ancaster restaurants find innovative ways to survive in a pandemic environment

Patios a saving grace for many establishments

News Jul 24, 2020 by Kevin Werner Ancaster News

Restaurants have experienced the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic after being one of the first industries to close down. Locally, Ancaster’s Pub Fiction was preparing for a new look when it was forced to shut its doors in March.

So, with the city moving into Stage 3 of the province’s reopening plan, the popular restaurant’s owner Mark Hodge is looking forward to getting back to some sense of normalcy.

The new rules, starting July 24, will mean adding an additional 50 seats to his establishment for indoor dining, along with the 60 seats that he can accommodate on his patio.

“I think it will help,” said Hodge.

Related Content

Awnish Srivastava, owner of Unique Restaurant Group that includes Southcote 53 Tap and Grill, said having a large patio, expanding it onto the grass area, has proved fortunate for his restaurant business, located on Garner Road.

“It allowed us to accommodate guests while being able to social distance effectively,” he said.

Srivastava said Southcote revamped its menu, focusing on Won ton Nachos, Chicken Wings, Fish and Chips and pizza plus new and improved items such as spinach dip, tempura shrimp, Big Kahuna burger and Chipotle Beer-B-Q baby back ribs.

The restaurant opened the patio on the weekend for breakfast that has proved a popular event.

“It’s been an adjustment for everyone, from sanitizing and health and safety measures to wearing masks and other PPE while dealing with a long string of 40-degree plus heat,” he said.

He said the restaurant is preparing for Stage 3, but “unfortunately our industry has a long way to go with restrictions on capacity and entertainment and so on,” he said.

Jaced Keleci, of Sammy’s Bar and Restaurant, said his business has weathered the uncertainty so far. His customers rediscovered his “massive” patio when the city entered Stage 2, which allowed outdoor eating.

“We are alive,” said Keleci, after he was closed for nearly three months. “The restaurant will come back.”

His customers have “loved” the patio and they were there as soon as the city allowed outdoor dining, he said.

In the days leading up to July 24, Keleci was still considering whether to allow indoor dining during Stage 3.

It’s a sentiment that other businesses are wrestling with as they protect their staff, while also providing a safe environment for customers, said Ancaster Business Improvement Area chair Jennifer Mattern.

She said Ancaster restaurants are adapting to the new environment with its restrictions by expanding patios and offering takeout, such as Brewers Blackbird and Cavallo Nero on Wilson Street.

“It is good to see,” she said. “I have had to learn all about COVID and public health guidelines. It has been something. Businesses have had to adapt in this uncertain environment.”

Andiamo Italian food truck owner Alex Woodley-Batogh knows all about adapting to a changing marketplace. He had been a welcome presence at the Ancaster Farmers’ Market in 2019 and committed to the 2020 season but when the market closed and the pandemic hit, he had to scramble to survive.

“We found a good niche,” he said. “We are not travelling far. We are also adapting to weddings that are smaller in size, transitioning to intimate events.”

He has found some success online, creating prepared meals for pickup and returning to the farmers’ market on Wednesdays at the Ancaster Fairgrounds.

With Stage 3, Woodley-Batogh doesn’t see it helping him too much since it still prevents large gatherings from happening. Businesses isn’t enough for him to hire staff, so it’s just him dishing out locally sourced food from his truck.

“We have to find new ways to earn revenue, at less cost,” he said. “I can’t see how restaurants are doing it. Even at half capacity, it would be hard to make money. But I’m hanging in there.”

Restaurant Canada officials say that 800,000 food service jobs have been lost during the pandemic in the country, with 300,000 of those in Ontario. Also, one in 10 restaurants have permanently closed in Canada and about 18 per cent could close if conditions don't improve.

One business that will not be opening at this time in Ancaster is Cineplex in the Meadowlands. The company is still negotiating with the provincial government to expand the 50-person limit for individual theatres.

Katie Rankin, spokesperson for Cineplex, said: “We don’t have any news to share about Hamilton theatres reopening right now.

“Our top priority has always been the health and safety of our employees and guests and ensuring that their time with us is safe, comfortable and welcoming.”

When he closed in March, Hodge was seeing a 63 per cent jump in business in January and February and was preparing for a successful March and April with additional bookings for parties and an $80,000 upgrade to the restaurant’s interior.

But when the pandemic hit, he closed his business, while dealing with high debt and a landlord that was insisting all businesses in the plaza pay their rent.

Hodge had to adapt to a quickly changing food environment and started to offer takeout with his new pizza oven. He landed a catering contract, and when Hamilton entered Stage 2, his patio was ready to welcome back customers. His Toronto-based landlord also relented and provided support to Pub Fiction, along with the rest of the tenants in the plaza.

“We have loyal clientele who have been great for us,” he said. “Our takeout has been doing well and the patio has been pretty good.”

Hodge had to lay off his 29-person staff, but slowly he has welcomed them back. He said his chef, and kitchen manager and some other key personnel have grown “very close” during these often difficult times as they navigated the difficult business waters to stay afloat.

“They have done a fantastic job,” he said.


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: We wanted to find out how Ancaster restaurants are adapting to the province's Stage 3 reopening guidelines which permit limited in-person dining with physical distancing.

Ancaster restaurants find innovative ways to survive in a pandemic environment

Patios a saving grace for many establishments

News Jul 24, 2020 by Kevin Werner Ancaster News

Restaurants have experienced the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic after being one of the first industries to close down. Locally, Ancaster’s Pub Fiction was preparing for a new look when it was forced to shut its doors in March.

So, with the city moving into Stage 3 of the province’s reopening plan, the popular restaurant’s owner Mark Hodge is looking forward to getting back to some sense of normalcy.

The new rules, starting July 24, will mean adding an additional 50 seats to his establishment for indoor dining, along with the 60 seats that he can accommodate on his patio.

“I think it will help,” said Hodge.

Related Content

Awnish Srivastava, owner of Unique Restaurant Group that includes Southcote 53 Tap and Grill, said having a large patio, expanding it onto the grass area, has proved fortunate for his restaurant business, located on Garner Road.

“It allowed us to accommodate guests while being able to social distance effectively,” he said.

Srivastava said Southcote revamped its menu, focusing on Won ton Nachos, Chicken Wings, Fish and Chips and pizza plus new and improved items such as spinach dip, tempura shrimp, Big Kahuna burger and Chipotle Beer-B-Q baby back ribs.

The restaurant opened the patio on the weekend for breakfast that has proved a popular event.

“It’s been an adjustment for everyone, from sanitizing and health and safety measures to wearing masks and other PPE while dealing with a long string of 40-degree plus heat,” he said.

He said the restaurant is preparing for Stage 3, but “unfortunately our industry has a long way to go with restrictions on capacity and entertainment and so on,” he said.

Jaced Keleci, of Sammy’s Bar and Restaurant, said his business has weathered the uncertainty so far. His customers rediscovered his “massive” patio when the city entered Stage 2, which allowed outdoor eating.

“We are alive,” said Keleci, after he was closed for nearly three months. “The restaurant will come back.”

His customers have “loved” the patio and they were there as soon as the city allowed outdoor dining, he said.

In the days leading up to July 24, Keleci was still considering whether to allow indoor dining during Stage 3.

It’s a sentiment that other businesses are wrestling with as they protect their staff, while also providing a safe environment for customers, said Ancaster Business Improvement Area chair Jennifer Mattern.

She said Ancaster restaurants are adapting to the new environment with its restrictions by expanding patios and offering takeout, such as Brewers Blackbird and Cavallo Nero on Wilson Street.

“It is good to see,” she said. “I have had to learn all about COVID and public health guidelines. It has been something. Businesses have had to adapt in this uncertain environment.”

Andiamo Italian food truck owner Alex Woodley-Batogh knows all about adapting to a changing marketplace. He had been a welcome presence at the Ancaster Farmers’ Market in 2019 and committed to the 2020 season but when the market closed and the pandemic hit, he had to scramble to survive.

“We found a good niche,” he said. “We are not travelling far. We are also adapting to weddings that are smaller in size, transitioning to intimate events.”

He has found some success online, creating prepared meals for pickup and returning to the farmers’ market on Wednesdays at the Ancaster Fairgrounds.

With Stage 3, Woodley-Batogh doesn’t see it helping him too much since it still prevents large gatherings from happening. Businesses isn’t enough for him to hire staff, so it’s just him dishing out locally sourced food from his truck.

“We have to find new ways to earn revenue, at less cost,” he said. “I can’t see how restaurants are doing it. Even at half capacity, it would be hard to make money. But I’m hanging in there.”

Restaurant Canada officials say that 800,000 food service jobs have been lost during the pandemic in the country, with 300,000 of those in Ontario. Also, one in 10 restaurants have permanently closed in Canada and about 18 per cent could close if conditions don't improve.

One business that will not be opening at this time in Ancaster is Cineplex in the Meadowlands. The company is still negotiating with the provincial government to expand the 50-person limit for individual theatres.

Katie Rankin, spokesperson for Cineplex, said: “We don’t have any news to share about Hamilton theatres reopening right now.

“Our top priority has always been the health and safety of our employees and guests and ensuring that their time with us is safe, comfortable and welcoming.”

When he closed in March, Hodge was seeing a 63 per cent jump in business in January and February and was preparing for a successful March and April with additional bookings for parties and an $80,000 upgrade to the restaurant’s interior.

But when the pandemic hit, he closed his business, while dealing with high debt and a landlord that was insisting all businesses in the plaza pay their rent.

Hodge had to adapt to a quickly changing food environment and started to offer takeout with his new pizza oven. He landed a catering contract, and when Hamilton entered Stage 2, his patio was ready to welcome back customers. His Toronto-based landlord also relented and provided support to Pub Fiction, along with the rest of the tenants in the plaza.

“We have loyal clientele who have been great for us,” he said. “Our takeout has been doing well and the patio has been pretty good.”

Hodge had to lay off his 29-person staff, but slowly he has welcomed them back. He said his chef, and kitchen manager and some other key personnel have grown “very close” during these often difficult times as they navigated the difficult business waters to stay afloat.

“They have done a fantastic job,” he said.


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: We wanted to find out how Ancaster restaurants are adapting to the province's Stage 3 reopening guidelines which permit limited in-person dining with physical distancing.