The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has presented a number of challenges for businesses around the world, including businesses in Sackville. The owners of Aida’s Café, Barnyard Bicycles, and Bagtown Brewing Company shared their experiences as they navigate this new wave of the pandemic.
Aida’s Café is currently relying on take-out orders and is also offering free delivery services to any customer who orders more than $15 “for those who have difficulty visiting.” They will continue delivery services if restrictions do not change. One important change has been made to operating hours. Since the start of the New Year, Aida’s is closed on Sunday and is now open on Monday. Most of Aida’s staff are Mt. A students who have yet to return to campus, so the business has been operating with fewer staff than usual. However, Aida’s commends their student staff members for their commitment to following provincial guidelines, staying safe, and protecting both the business and customers.
Esther Chang from Aida’s remains grateful “that there are still many people who love Aida’s Café” to keep their spirits afloat, and plans on continuing to “provide high quality coffee, drinks, [and] food.” Chang believes that “difficulties can be an opportunity to take a leap forward again,” and approaches this new challenge with gratitude “rather than discouragement.”
Tobias Paul at Barnyard Bicycles has also made numerous changes to adapt to Omicron. Paul has changed the layout of his shop to allow for more distancing– even with his new limit of two customers in the store at a time. Since the winter is a natural slow season for Barnyard Bicycles, Paul has not noticed a huge decline in business but is worried he might have to delay his plan to open a community workshop in his store in April. The opening of this community workshop is contingent upon the provincial restrictions on public space, though extra sanitation guidelines will be put in place.
The beloved Bagtown Brewing Company has been greatly impacted by the Omicron variant. The tap-room cannot open until at least the end of January due to New Brunswick’s Level 3 restrictions. In the meantime, owner Anthony Maddalena is busy working on various tap-room projects. Currently, Bagtown is only able to sell cans to-go, with a new system for contactless pick up or delivery. Regardless of when customers are allowed to enjoy the beverages inside again, Maddalena is focusing on “updated practices” to “make sure we are following public health guidelines.” Even if it is solely for take-out orders, Bagtown will eventually re-open. While deliveries could be an option, the business’ two-person staff makes this very difficult.
While Omicron has impacted Sackville businesses’ ability to interact with customers, it has not had an effect on their spirits. Safely supporting local businesses is a great way to engage with the Sackville community and remain safe while we all do our part during these challenging times.