Eater­ies ea­ger to welcome cus­tomers

Eater­ies ea­ger to welcome back cus­tomers

The Chronicle Herald (Provincial) - - FRONT PAGE - BILL SPURR bspurr@her­ald.ca @Bill­spurr

“If we can get lo­cal peo­ple trav­el­ling back and forth around the area, speak­ing for my­self, we should be able to make it through the sum­mer.”

As busi­ness prob­lems go, this wasn’t a bad one to have.

Restau­ra­teur Martin Ruiz Sal­vador had to drive from Lunen­burg to Kentville on Tues­day to re­plen­ish his sup­ply of take­out con­tain­ers be­cause the hol­i­day week­end had been so busy.

Sal­vador and his wife, Sylvie, own the Salt Shaker Deli, the Beach Pea, the South Shore Fish Shack and Half Shell Oys­ters and Seafood, all in Lunen­burg.

Two are open and two oth­ers that would nor­mally be open by now re­main closed.

Sal­vador says what he shares with other busi­ness own­ers try­ing to fig­ure out how to make it work these days is that what he needs most is pa­tience from his cus­tomers.

“Which we have, a hun­dred per cent,” he said.

“Ev­ery­body has been com­pletely un­der­stand­ing about ev­ery­thing, our cus­tomers have been fan­tas­tic. The

num­ber one thing is your staff. We wouldn’t be able to do any of this un­less we had the great staff that we have.”

The Salt Shaker Deli is a year-round restau­rant that the pan­demic closed for al­most two months, so get­ting that open first, which hap­pened May 5, was the pri­or­ity.

“Also, it lends it­self very well to take­out,” said Sal­vador.

“Prob­a­bly not as well as the Fish Shack but we do have piz­zas on the menu, sand­wiches, pas­tas, pad Thais. So, it’s great eat­ing-in food, but also it works very well for take­out. We knew we wanted to open the Salt Shaker first, then pro­ceed to the Fish Shack for take­out.”

The South Shore Fish Shack opened Fri­day, sat through a wet, cool and quiet Satur­day and then was full out Sun­day and Mon­day.

The way Sal­vador is run­ning his busi­ness now has changed com­pletely.

“It’s a hun­dred per cent take­out,” he said.

“There’s no front of the house staff, maybe one or two at each place so un­for­tu­nately most of our wait­ers and wait­resses are still laid off. It’s more kitchen heavy, there’s more peo­ple work­ing in the kitchen than work­ing in the front of the house at the Deli.”

In a small town like Lunen­burg, Sal­vador is a huge em­ployer. Usu­ally.

The four restau­rants pro­vided 107 jobs last sum­mer and right now have 14 on staff, not count­ing the two own­ers.

“About this time, we’d (nor­mally) be at 80 per cent, get­ting students trained,” Sal­vador said.

“Pretty much all of our places would have been fully staffed right now, not nec­es­sar­ily full-time hours but pretty much ev­ery­one would be get­ting a few shifts here and there, cer­tainly at front of house, not nec­es­sar­ily in back.”

Apart from hav­ing to ad­just times for cus­tomers of the Salt Shaker to pick up their or­ders from 10 min­utes apart to five, oper­a­tions have gone smoothly.

“We had pick­ups pretty spread out, but a lot of peo­ple wanted to eat ear­lier so we set up the times so the ma­jor­ity of the or­ders are out be­fore 6:30,” said the owner, who’s wait­ing for per­mis­sion to open the pa­tio space that spans the area be­tween two of his restau­rants.

“The prov­ince is, I as­sume, who will make those rules. Across North Amer­ica there seem to be dif­fer­ent ways — six feet apart or 50 per cent ca­pac­ity. We’ll have to look at what they de­cide to do.”

Like all hos­pi­tal­ity busi­nesses on the South Shore, Sal­vador’s restau­rants take in con­sid­er­able rev­enue from Amer­i­cans, whether they’re pass­ing through or there for the sum­mer. Mak­ing up that lost busi­ness will be cru­cial.

“I’d re­ally like to see what I heard on the ra­dio this week­end about this idea of a Mar­itime bub­ble or an At­lantic Canada bub­ble, where peo­ple can travel freely through that area,” he said.

“I know the bor­der with the U.S. has been closed for another month, that brings us to the first day of sum­mer. We have a lot of sum­mer res­i­dents in our area from the U.S., so I don’t know how that’s go­ing to pan out. If we can get lo­cal peo­ple trav­el­ling back and forth around the area, speak­ing for my­self, we should be able to make it through this sum­mer.

“The goal for this sum­mer is to try to get most of our staff employed again, get them back in ac­tion and gen­er­ate enough rev­enue to make it through the win­ter and hope­fully start 2021 like we were plan­ning to start 2020.”

Martin Ruiz Sal­vador Restau­ra­teur

TIM KROCHAK • THE CHRON­I­CLE HER­ALD

Chef Martin Ruiz Sal­vador is seen at his South Shore Fish Shack in Lunen­burg on Satur­day.

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