Businesses reopening slowly in Maple Ridge

Mardecus Hair Studio will be opening on June 1, Shooters Tap House already opened

Maple Ridge hair salon owner Michele Rae is relieved that she is finally going to be opening her doors again to clients.

However, out of an abundance of caution, she will hold off opening her doors until June 1, to make sure she has all of the provisions in place to keep both her staff and clients safe.

She has installed Plexiglas around the front desk and nail station and made hand sanitizer available throughout Mardecus Hair Studio.

Rae, like most businesses across the province permitted to open up during phase two of the government’s easing of restrictions, will be opening at 50-per-cent capacity.

Appointments are being staggered so at no time will there be two people coming in the door at the same time.

And, she will only have six stylists working per day, four less than what she used to have working on a normal day – before COVID-19 spread across the province, the country, and the globe.

Communication between stylist and client is going to be kept to a minimum.

“I think this is going to be the new normal for a while. It’s going to be really different to wear a mask all day. To not talk a lot,” said Rae.

“Because that’s part of our job. That’s what we do – we communicate, we talk, and we laugh and tell stories. And we can’t really do that,” Rae added.

READ MORE: Forget big weddings this summer, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

A dry erase board at the back of the salon will be mocked up with the available stations, so staff know where they will be working during their shift. And, Rae has created safe zones at the back of the salon for staff to sit down and take a break.

“I think everybody is definitely a little bit nervous. We work close with people,”said Rae.

But, she is not anticipating any major issues with re-opening.

“I am going to make darn sure that our staff and our clients are safe and that we’re following all of WorkSafe and beauty council regulations,” she said.

Meanwhile, Shooters Tap House owner Ryan van Baal built a new kitchen for the pub that was unveiled in September last year.

He poured more than $100,000 into the site, and work took about a year and a half to complete.

Then, a mere six months later COVID-19 hit, and the provincial government mandated he close his doors on March 17.

“At that point in time we had to layoff our staff,” said van Baal.

READ MORE: Dr. Bonnie Henry’s book on germs re-released with coronavirus introduction

They did stay open for an extra week doing takeout orders.

But, a lot of people – at that time – were leery about takeout, he said. And a lot of people had also stocked up on groceries.

His takeout sales dropped about 50 to 75 per cent.

“I made the tough decision that it was just costing money to be open and so I chose to close entirely,” he explained.

But van Baal has since re-opened, throwing open the doors on the pub on Tuesday, May 19.

As a member of both Able BC and the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association, van Baal was kept in the loop about new regulations that would be in place by the time he would be able to open again.

“I knew how the reopening [plan] was progressing and I knew the majority of the details on what was required,” said van Baal, noting that he was already working on an opening plan early last week.

So, when WorkSafe BC came out with new regulations on Friday, May 15, along with Dr. Bonnie Henry’s changes to the health order on May 16, van Baal was ready.

He already created a floor plan for 50 per cent occupancy and installed small amounts of Plexiglas along the bar.

He ordered food on May 15 and prepped all weekend.

But, he said, opening the restaurant again came at a high cost.

A restaurant owner has to set aside money for a rainy day, like a broken piece of equipment or an upgrade to equipment or a renovation, van Baal said. But this was an unusual situation.

“You don’t, necessarily, put away money for two months of shutdown and two months of expenses,” he said, listing rent, heat, and gas.

Also there was food loss that van Baal gifted to his staff when the pandemic hit. He estimates that cost him at least $15,000 alone.

Then he had to reorder all new food and restock his shelves. He also had to return all of his kegs of beer and reorder fresh kegs.

“It probably cost me, just to be able to reopen our doors, $25,000 – minimum,” he said.

Like other restaranteurs, he has to provide hand sanitizer for guests and staff, plus gloves, and masks. He has also changed the hours of the restaurant to close at 10 p.m. because he is unable to book live bands or DJs.

“It’s incredibly complicated,” said van Baal.

“But we’re open.”

And, he said, he can give every single guest who walks through the front doors all the confidence in the world that they’ve done “everything and more” to ensure that everybody’s safe.

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Ryan van Baal is owner of Shooters Tap House. (The News files)

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