As we all know the Covid 19 pandemic made its presence known to us in the spring of 2020 and changed our world as we knew it. Unfortunately, it was not disclosed with enough speed, honesty, and transparency that we as humans should have expected. Now, I am not going to say there was some conspiracy or ill will intended. I mean, we still don’t have a proven origin story behind how this virus came to be, but I think we can all agree it is here to stay, it should have been addressed quicker and the severity of the illness has caused irreversible damage.
I was working as Chef at one of Hamilton Ontario’s top restaurants when Covid appeared. We were just celebrating the 1-year anniversary of our business and we were rolling. Packed house on most nights, wait lines at the door and many, many, many sold out nights all together. Things could not have been going better. Ugggh, wait a minute…Covid!!!
We were ordered to shut down.
This would not be the last time.
Our restaurant went from being one of the busiest in the city to a ghost town in the blink of an eye. All employees were temporarily laid off. We scrambled to freeze what product we were able to as to avoid wasting it. This is harder than it sounds when you normally don’t carry a lot of frozen items to begin with. It is even harder to accomplish when you now must find freezer space that you never needed before. We filled all the space we had, sent food home with staff, and create makeshift dishes that we handed out to our disenfranchised community, many of whom lived just outside our doors. We scrubbed everything down, wrapped everything up, shut off the gas and locked the doors not knowing for how long or what things would look like when or if we re-opened. It was a scary time for the business. It was a scary time for our customers, our staff and me. I was scared, for my family, my friends, my community and for humanity. I felt a genuine concern for billions of people that I will most likely never meet, as though they were members of my own family.
We went on to re-open only to be closed again and re-open only to be closed again with little to no notice and each time with a different set of rules attached. No body seemed to be able to provide the kind of direction we longed for. Personally, I think the whole world should have shut everything down right from the start and left it that way until the spread of this virus was manageable. I know from our perspective, being told to go through this process once, even if it had been for an extendedly long period, would have shaved so much stress from my life. As it turns out, this was not the case and eventually after everything we went through and all the things I had personally endured during this time, on
December 31st, 2020…I worked my last shift.
By that time the only 2 people left working at the restaurant was the owner and myself. To be honest, I don’t know how much more I had in me. Preparing all the items, cooking all of the items, doing all the dishes, maintaining all the equipment, cleaning and sanitizing everything all the time and the burden of every job on my shoulders in a role that would normally support 10 other people was just too much. With all the restrictions imparted on us and the limitation associated with them, our once thriving restaurant could no longer support my salary or operate with me as the sole employee. After much personal deliberation and discussions with the owner, we agreed to part ways.
In hindsight, it is the best thing that could have happened to me.