Former bomber urges federal government to support restaurants


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Winnipeg restaurant owner Ibrahim “Obby” Khan is hoping federal government support for restaurants like his doesn’t stop long before the goal line.

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“It’s kind of like, ‘We’re already so invested, we’re committed so far, we’re almost at the finish line and they’re going backwards now,’ said Khan, a former offensive lineman and owner. of the CFL. of Shawarma Khan, of Winnipeg, and Green Carrot Juice Co.

“We’re almost there. Give us a little more support.

Khan was speaking in favor of pressure from Restaurants Canada to ensure Ottawa to ensure hard-hit foodservice companies have enough federal support to get through next spring – a time when many offices will likely reopen and the tourism is expected to rebound.

Khan is concerned that all the support given to restaurants so far will be worthless without additional support.

“The government has done a very good job supporting the restaurants so far by changing the rent and wage subsidy programs from when they were originally launched,” said Khan, who spent eight seasons in the CFL, including six with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers before retiring in 2012. to enter the restaurant business. “The way they’re approaching it now, I think, is (bad). We have invested so much in supporting companies like mine that if we go back to the drastic levels that they are now withdrawing, all the support they have given to many companies will be for naught because we will not be able to operate at these new thresholds they are talking about.

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Obby Khan, former Blue Bomber and owner of Shawarma Khan and Green Carrot Juice Co.
Obby Khan, former Blue Bomber and owner of Shawarma Khan and Green Carrot Juice Co. Photo by document /Winnipeg Sun

According to the latest survey data from Restaurants Canada, 90% of food service companies have relied on federal rent and wage subsidies to help them survive the pandemic, but only 20% are eligible for the new stimulus package. tourism and hospitality. The vast majority of restaurants have operated at a loss or barely reached profitability throughout the pandemic, with eight in 10 operations having either lost money steadily since the end of the first wave of lockdowns last year , or have strived with a profit margin of 2% or less.

Khan takes a darker view of these numbers.

“I know 10 in 10 of us needed this grant to survive,” said Khan, who is optimistic that Ottawa will revise its support program as it has as the pandemic has worsened. changed and needs have changed. “Without this grant, my six restaurants would have all been completed. “

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Located downtown near the Manitoba Hydro headquarters, one of Khan’s six restaurants just reopened a few weeks ago after being closed for 18 months due to the pandemic.

“I was paying loans, rent, and utilities for those 18 months with zero income,” Khan said, noting sales are still down 90% as they literally earn $ 100 a day at this store. while its staff costs $ 300 per day. Other restaurants have had to reduce their opening hours or, in the case of Richardson International Airport, are struggling to continue.

Restaurants Canada is pushing for an eligibility threshold starting at a 10% drop in income for the new tourism and hospitality stimulus program instead of the current 40%, with a wage subsidy rate that is calculated as 1 , 2 times the percentage of sales decline up to a maximum of 75%, to ensure that restaurants can survive the current pandemic. In addition, they want greater forgiveness on all government-guaranteed business loans and extended loan repayment times through the Canada Business Emergency Account (CEBA).

[email protected]

Twitter: @SunGlenDawkins

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