How Local Bars and Restaurants Are Coping with the Ongoing LCBO Strike

How Local Bars and Restaurants Are Coping with the Ongoing LCBO Strike
How Local Bars and Restaurants Are Coping with the Ongoing LCBO Strike

Bars and restaurants in Ontario are closely monitoring the LCBO strike, as many rely on the stores for liquor supplies.

At The Civil in Kitchener, owner Brandon Court said they had been stocking up on supplies ahead of the strike.

“At first there was panic,” Court said. “We realized we had a little bit of time before the deadline, so we just stocked up as much as we could because we use a lot of different types of liquor.”

Because it’s peak patio season and service is busy, Court said he’s keeping an eye on inventory levels. If supplies run low, he’s willing to rely on local customers to serve them.

“We could trim the cocktail list down a little bit, but honestly there are so many local options right now that we can go to local distilleries. You can find almost anything you want there,” he said.

Court says he’s noticed more customers picking up cocktails from The Civil in recent days.

Some also come for more drinks in general.

“We’ve had a few tables say, ‘I normally make a cocktail at home, but I don’t have the ingredients right now, so we’re going to come over here and make this dish,’ and that’s great,” he said.

At Odd Duck in Kitchener, owner Wes Klassen said their business hasn’t been affected much by the LCBO strike because their beverage offerings consist primarily of local spirits.

The restaurant is partially dependent on the LCBO, but Klassen says they have other options in reserve if supplies run out.

“If we suddenly get really hit and can’t find something we’re looking for, we’ll completely change our menu and buy directly from the distilleries that need our 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 have been stockpiling about three weeks of inventory with the hope that the strike would only last two to three weeks. I think it might last a little bit longer,” said Court Desautels, president and CEO of Neighborhood Group.

He added that staff has already begun checking LCBO’s online options to be prepared if they need to restock. He said they’ve run into issues logging into the portal, as well as finding what they need.

“I asked the teams to find the products that we normally get through LCBO, just to see if they were available to order,” he explained.

“None of these products have been available to date.”

According to Desautels, it has been noticeably busier in their restaurants lately. However, he cannot say whether this is due to the strike or the nice weather.

It is still unclear when the strike will end, but restaurant owners are already wondering what the sector will look like after the strike.

“I think we’re going to see people’s patterns change and people become less reliant on the LCBO and they’re going to find great products that they can buy in their own backyard,” Desautels said.

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

LCBO did not immediately comment, 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 affected parties.