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How local bars and restaurants are coping as LCBO strike carries on


Ontario bars and restaurants are keeping a close eye on the LCBO strike as many rely on the stores to stock their liquor shelves.

At The Civil in Kitchener, owner Brandon Court said they stocked up ahead of the strike.

“Initially, it was panic,” Court said. “We realized we had a little bit of time leading up to the deadline, so we just stockpiled as much as we could because we use a lot of diverse liquors.”

Because it’s peak patio season and service has been busy, Court said he’s been monitoring inventory levels. If things run low, he’s ready to rely on local to keep customers served.

“We could pare down the cocktail list a little bit, but honestly there are so many local options at this point that we can go to local distilleries. You can find just about anything you’re looking for,” he said.

Over the past few days, Court said he’s noticed more customers coming in to pick up The Civil’s take out cocktails.

Some are also coming in for more drinks in general.

“We’ve had a few tables say ‘I typically make a cocktail at home, but I don’t have the ingredients right now, so we’re stopping in here for this’ which is great,” he said.

At Odd Duck in Kitchener, owner Wes Klassen said their operations haven’t been greatly affected by the LCBO strike because of their heavily local liquor list.

The restaurant does rely on the LCBO for some spirits, but Klassen said they have options in their back pocket if that inventory runs out.

“If we, all of a sudden, are getting really hit and can’t find something we’re looking for, we’ll just switch our menu up completely and buy direct from those distilleries that need the support,” Klassen said.

The Neighbourhood Group owns and operates five restaurants in and around Waterloo Region, including Borealis Grille & Bar in Kitchener and Guelph.

“We gathered about three weeks worth of inventory hoping that the strike would only last two to three weeks. I think it may last a little longer,” Neighbourhood Group President & CEO Court Desautels said.

He added staff have already began checking LCBO’s online options to be prepared if they need to restock. He said they’ve run into hiccups with getting signed up on the portal, as well as finding what they need.

“[I’ve been] asking the teams to find the products that we have that we normally get through LCBO just to see if you can order them,” he explained.

“So far, none of those products have been available.”

Desautels said their restaurants have been noticeably busier lately, but he can’t say whether that’s from the strike or if it’s because of the nice weather.

It’s still unclear when the strike will end, but restaurant owners are already wondering what the industry will look like in the aftermath.

“I think we’re going to see people’s patterns change and people may become less reliant on the LCBO and will start to find some great products that are available in their own backyard,” Desautels said.

CTV News reached out to LCBO for comment on some of the issues restaurants are reporting with the online ordering process.

LCBO did not directly respond to that, but said there will be more options for bars and restaurants to take advantage of, including the ability to place smaller orders. Those details will be shared directly with impacted parties. Top Stories

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