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Monday, July 4, 2022
Restaurateur hopes this is final COVIDreopening

Regulars, like 'The Boys at the Bar,' are happy to be back at Silks


Silks Country Kitchen took the day off on Monday to reorient from a takeout model back to in-house dining, and co-owner Jen Phelan would like for it to be the last time.

“I'm very hopeful that this will be it and it seems that (the province) is saying all the right things,” Phelan said on Tuesday.

Last Thursday, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health said the province will need to start living with COVID-19. Phelan’s optimism is checked in the face of such comments by the back-and-forth lockdowns and rhetoric of the past two years.

“They said all the right things before, too,” she said.

Regardless, she said it is great to be open again and thanked Silks’ customers for helping the Virgil restaurant get through the hard times.

“We’re in a good area and we’ve been here a long time. We’ve got a pretty good core group that’s stuck around,” she said.

Phelan said one of the most difficult aspects of the repeated lockdowns has been retaining new hires.

“We’ve kept everybody working but you always lose one or two people each time you reopen, which is a struggle,” she said.

The employment climate created by the pandemic has made it difficult to find new staff.

“They’re just harder to replace. Nobody wants to come to work because they’re afraid they’re not going to have a job in two months,” Phelan said.

“We’re just looking for some normalcy.”

Over at the bar, some longtime Silk regulars showed up to enjoy their fourth day-one pint at the popular restaurant.

“Oh my God, it feels so good to be back in here,” said Randy Debon, a veteran of 20-plus years patronizing Silks.

“Look how much they lose being closed for no reason,” Debon said.

He said it's difficult for customers to lose their favourite hangout but more difficult for staff and the owners who lose income.

“We enjoy coming here, so it’s hard. I mean, how the heck do these people all pay rent and everything when it’s closed? You can only make so much money on takeout,” he said.

“You try to help them out, but,” Debon trailed off.

But regaining that community spirit and connecting was sweet for the boys at the bar.

“It’s just nice to see Jen again,” Frank Davis said.

“To see all of them, everybody!” Debon added in.

“Hopefully it will last this time, 'cause this up-anddown yo-yo stuff has got to stop, one way or another. It’s killing small businesses and it’s killing restaurants,” Davis said.

He said it isn’t just the closures and loss of income that hurts restaurants.

“You end up throwing away a bunch of inventory and there’s a lot of waste,” he said.

In the annals of history there are few people who have the strength of character to only have one name. Seal, Bono, Cher, Sting and in the little community of Virgil there is Freduardo.

“This is the best place to go with anybody who wants to come,” Freduardo said.

“Good food, good atmosphere,” Freduardo said before being interrupted by Debon.

“You’re supposed to say, ‘Go Habs, Go!’” Debon said.

“Go Leafs, Go!” Freduardo retorted.

It will come as no surprise to the reader that Debon and Freduardo sat at opposite ends of the group.