Times are tougher than ever for restaurateurs and their employees.
Inflation remains high with no signs of slowing down, food costs are causing prices to skyrocket and rent has never been more expensive. A restaurant’s overhead is impossibly high, to the point where many are not making a profit.
One downtown restaurant, Ferris’ Bar & Grill, even turned to publicly posting about the costs an eatery faces with every food item they produce.
In addition to these reasons, many Victoria businesses are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, trying to keep their heads above water in the slow winter season and downtown is being deemed unsafe by many in Greater Victoria due to higher than normal rates of crime and vandalism.
These are just some of the contributing factors that are causing restaurants across town to close.
These nine restaurants across Greater Victoria have announced their closure in the last two months and unfortunately more are likely to follow their lead:
The natural wine hotspot shuttered in January after seven years of business.
Agrius announced their last day of service would be January 15th via social media; the reason for the restaurant’s demise, inflation.
“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the closure of Agrius Restaurant,” the restaurant said two days prior to its closing date.
“We have worked very, very hard to try to create a more sustainable model for local food: from farmers and producers to the staff working in front and back of house, but in the current climate, this has proven to be incredibly difficult.”
The space remains in use by Fol Epi, who are still doing brunch service on weekends.
Old Vic Fish & Chips
It was one of Victoria’s oldest restaurants, serving UK-style fish and chips on Broad street for over 90 years, but it shut its doors for good on January 28th.
Owners, Cindy Qin and Gary Grroth told Victoria Buzz they looked for a new place within Victoria but couldn’t find anything suitable for their business.
“I don’t want to give up,” Qin said. “I tried searching in the downtown area but I either didn’t like anywhere or it was too much and I can’t afford it.”
Ultimately, this business closed because the building they occupy which is owned by UVic is renovating. The building will be transformed into a hotel in the coming years and the main floor will be commercial space but Old Vic Fish & Chips wasn’t given the option to stay.
The Chinese food destination has been a staple of the Victoria food scene for 20 years. In early February, they announced their last day of service would be set for April 30th, 2023.
In a statement from the Lotus Pond website, the owners expressed their thoughts on the unfortunate news.
“We would like to express our deepest gratitude for all the support the community has given to us throughout these years and will continue to provide you with our best service until our last day,” read the statement.
One of the best Korean restaurants in town up until recently. In January, King Sejong announced its closure due to its owners wanting to retire.
Since its closure, a new Asian fusion restaurant has opened in its stead. Victoria Poch will be taking over the space according to one of its owners, Arnold Yeung
“The previous owners wanted to retire. They were going to give their business to their daughters but their children were looking for something other than restaurant owners. It was sad seeing the business cycling out.”
This Westshore sandwich, pizza and wrap haven also announced its closure this February.
The now 64-year-old owner, Karen Ricketts announced the closure on social media. The last day of operation was February 13th.
Ricketts said online that another business had taken over Island Sub’s lease in Westshore Town Centre, but the location remains vacant for now.
After more than 30 years, the Oak Bay Marina’s restaurant has shut its doors for good.
The restaurant announced on Monday, “the Marina Restaurant has been a fixture in the community and in our hearts for over 30 years. Our community, current and past, have made this restaurant legendary, we have seen our staff and our guests grow up at the Marina Restaurant.”
They cited staff shortages and inflation as the reasons for the business’s closure.
“Unfortunately, just like many others we are not immune to the economic challenges arising from inflation, therefore we are not able to operate any longer.”
Their last day of operation will be sometime between March 1st and 5th.
The once popular catering company has been the subject of mass scrutiny over the last week following their announcement of closure.
Many people still had paid a significant amount of money in deposits to Toque Catering that they have not and likely will not get back.
“They were highly recommended by people who previously worked with them and those who received their services. We booked and gave them a deposit of $3,950,” said one customer who feels ripped off by the company.
In a statement sent to Victoria Buzz by Toque Catering, the company said that it had many financial issues that contributed to its closing.
“Despite our best efforts to adapt to the challenging circumstances brought on by the pandemic, the prolonged lockdowns and restrictions placed on events and gatherings have severely impacted our operations, leading to insurmountable financial losses.”
“We have explored every possible option to keep the business afloat, but unfortunately, we have been left with no choice but to cease operations.”
Very Good Butchers
The vegan “butcher” company has faced much scrutiny over the years for mistreating employees and for making poor business decisions.
The Very Good Butchers were on Dragon’s Den, had their items in grocery stores across Canada, teamed up with Pamela Anderson for a charity, opened several locations throughout the city and now they have announced that despite these endeavours, they are closing for good as of February 28th.
“We are sorry to announce that we have closed our doors for good,” wrote the Very Good Butchers in a social media post.
“Since the first butchered bean, we worked hard to make our dream of a better world possible by loving the animals and the planet through our whole-food, plant-based meats. We hope to see you around. Thanks for making it a wild ride!”
The last space they occupied as a storefront on Store Street remains vacant. The company has cited their financial situation as the main reason for their downward spiral and eventual closure.
Cora on Douglas
The breakfast and lunch chain that became popular for the large servings of fruit they offer with mostly every dish has closed its Victoria location.
Their social media says nothing of the closure, but it appears to be operated on a national level.
Victoria Buzz reached out to the restaurant numerous times to inquire as to the reason they closed, but no one has responded.