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Alberta restaurant owner refuses to ‘risk our staff’ by reopening to the public

Last Updated Feb 15, 2021 at 1:42 pm MDT

Credit: FACEBOOK/Northern Chicken/Kristin Zabos Photography)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Though restaurants were able to open their doors at a limited capacity this past week, one Alberta restaurant is choosing not to.

Matt Phillips, the co-owner of Northern Chicken in Edmonton, has decided not to reopen his establishment’s doors to the public in order to keep his employees safe.

“The risks in my mind are still too high to reopen and allow customers into our restaurant and risk our staff,” said Phillips. “We made the decision well in advance of the lockdown.”

Being a veteran of the restaurant industry and well aware of what goes into managing a staff, Phillips says the decision was an easy one.

“Many years in the hospitality industry and many years seeing people get – I don’t want to say screwed over – treated not so well. We decided that when we opened Northern we would make it as staff friendly as possible: benefits, higher than minimum wage wages.

“This was just a logical extension of that.”

The restaurant is still doing take-out orders through its new online ordering system. Phillips says he is lucky that Albertans have kept placing orders throughout the pandemic.

“I’m fortunate for that and I recognize that privilege compared to lots of restaurants,” he said. “Our sales haven’t dropped a tremendous amount through the pandemic. Because we modelled so quickly into a take-out business.”

Phillips says once the province’s case numbers in both the regular and variant strains of the virus are down is when he’ll consider reopening the doors to in-person dining. And that’s a discussion he wants to have with his staff first.