Sarah Lynne Maloney is exhausted.
Maloney has owned Malones Pint House for 17 years and this is the first time in her career managing the Bradford Street business that she feels like she is being forced to fail.
In a bid to curb COVID-19 cases, the province-wide shutdown announced by the Ontario government took effect on Saturday and is to last nearly a month. This has removed most of Maloney’s options, as restaurants are forced to go back to takeout and delivery only, with no indoor or outdoor dining.
“My landlord approved me to use the parking lot to extend the patio for more guests,” said Maloney, “which really saved me last year when we came out of lockdown.”
An usually mild March allowed Maloney to open her patio on Mar. 10. Up until the shutdown, business had been brisk.
She said what has helped her get through this difficult year has been a close support system including a ‘fantastic’ landlord.
Being able to offer takeout is not the solution, according to Maloney. She said it’s a hard gig because everybody wants to support local and everybody has their local place or a friend in the business, or a friend of a friend or neighbour.
“Individually, you can’t have takeout three or four nights a week,” explained Maloney.
“People are hurting. You can’t expect people to be buying takeout from you all the time. I would much rather have 10 people inside than do takeout alone.”
She has decided to operate Malones Thursday through Sunday and keep the doors closed the other three days of the week.
“I feel defeated. How much more can I do to make sure everyone knows that my spot is safe and clean?” Maloney said, in a tone of exasperation.
“I follow the rules and it is still shutdown.”
Maloney said COVID-19 and vaccinations is all people in the industry locally are talking about.
“I think the vaccinations are going to be great,” she said. “I am supportive of it.”
Maloney doesn’t know what else is left on the table after doing everything public health and government has asked of her to keep her employees and customers safe during the pandemic.
“I am hopeful the vaccinations are going to help. It seems everything we’ve done to this point has not helped – lockdowns, shutdowns, open up and close back down again, and do this and don’t do that. It’s not working.”
“I am hopeful that vaccinations are going to be the saving grace.”