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This Burnaby neighbourhood has been devastated by restaurant closures

Numbers show reservations down dramatically in restaurants
iStock photo

The announcement that the Pearl House in the Edmonds area has closed down has brought out an outpouring of comments from people in the neighbourhood.

The Pearl House was a respected Taiwanese restaurant with a loyal following, but the owner said he was having trouble with staffing issues due to COVID-19 and decided to close it and his restaurant in Richmond.

“Edmonds is an area that has so many restaurants representing so many different cultures,” wrote one resident. “It isn’t dominated by soulless chain restaurants but I worry that more won’t survive. They don’t have the deep pockets of a big chain restaurant. They are truly struggling.”

Edmonds is a thriving community with a wide variety of different cultures covering Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

 “Pearl House is another in a string of small restaurant closures in the last few years in the Edmonds area,” wrote another resident. “One of our favourite’s Days Thai closed last year due to COVID pressures that impacted operations and business. Prior to that, iThai on Edmonds, next to Edmonds Community Centre, closed. It was a devastating loss for our family as the staff knew our kids and were so welcoming. It would be great to do a profile on local restaurants in the area to bring more visibility to their struggles before we see any more shutter their doors.”

But things aren’t getting any better for restaurants thanks to COVID-19.

Canadian restaurants were actually experiencing a post-pandemic renaissance before Omicron. OpenTable data showed the number of diners seated were close to and on occasions exceeding pre-pandemic levels in late summer and fall 2021. Labour Day weekend saw seated diners from online, phone and walk-in reservations spike at almost 20% higher than the same period in 2019. 

A survey of OpenTable restaurants in November 2021 indicated 70% of restaurant owners and managers were approaching 2022 with optimism, reporting increased demand for reservations and increases in diner spending.

“OpenTable data shows Canadian restaurants saw a decline in seated diner numbers in January,” said Matt Davis, Canada country director with OpenTable. “We also know from the fall, that Canadians are eager to dine out when they feel confident.” 

But who knows when that will be and which restaurants will still be around when they are ready.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.