As Canada was beginning to grapple with the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, Earls Kamloops business partners Steve Faraday, Cindy Humphrey and Cody Rose made the tough decision to close the restaurant on March 15.
They made the call just days before Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry ordered bars and restaurants closed across British Columbia in response to the pandemic.
“We really wondered whether the restaurant would make it,” Faraday said as his team started planning for the launch of a take-out program which, he acknowledged, was not an immediate success.
“We were terrible at it, in fact,” Faraday said. “It was something we’d never done before and, on many occasions, we wondered whether we should just quit.”
But the team persevered, renovating, reorganizing and building; changing the menus and organizational systems; turning the full-service restaurant into a take-out enterprise.
A skeleton crew kept showing up to work unusual hours, while customers shared thoughts on what the restaurant could do to improve.
Armed with this feedback, sales were growing and staff began returning to work to cope with the demand three weeks into thew new setup.
In early May, the decision to open the restaurant was made.
While there were challenges, revenues remained strong and, in fact, exceeded those for the same period the previous year.
“We couldn’t believe what we were experiencing,” Faraday said. “What we knew without a doubt, however, was that it was our Earls family and the people of Kamloops who had carried us through the dark days of march and April. And we knew we had to find a meaningful way to say thank you.”
The team decided a donation to the Royal Inland Hospital Foundation was the right way to express gratitude to the community for its support.
Earls Kamloops’ $60,000 donation will be directed to health-care equipment and programming that supports children and youth facing mental-health challenges.