‘We’re really struggling’: Regina restaurant faces financial challenges in wake of pandemic

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Bomb Tempura & Korean BBQ is at risk of being closed as it struggles to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The family business currently has two locations in Regina, one in the east and one in the northwest.

A third site closed at the height of the pandemic. Something that hit the family hard, having been in the restaurant business for 18 years.

Jade Park, chief executive, said that over the past two years both venues have seen a 60-70% drop in revenue.

“It has been very difficult for us to advance the rent, to pay our bills and to pay our employees. Which makes it difficult for everyone,” Park said. “It’s like a domino effect because people who take our bills can’t pay their bills.”

She said one thing that has helped and also hurt them is third-party apps like Skip the Dishes and Door Dash. They allow people to have better access to food, but are very expensive in the restaurant.

“They charge us around 30% and that leaves us with nothing,” Park added. “We practically work for them without any pay.”

Food costs are also rising, creating an even bigger problem for the restaurant.

Park said the last thing they wanted to do was raise menu prices, adding that if the restaurant was in trouble, others must be in trouble too.

The restaurant applied for federal grants, but said it was taking longer than expected to receive the financial assistance.

“They tell us it will be there in 15 days, but it takes 45 days. Now it’s 45 days and it’s taking even longer. It kind of puts us behind on everything,” Park said.

She reached out to Warren Steinley, MP for Regina-Lewvan, to help navigate the grant process.

Steinley said he got the message earlier this week, adding that a few businesses faced delays because the government couldn’t keep up with demand.

“The (federal) Liberals have moved the target bar on a few of these programs over the past two years and there is confusion about what criteria can be met,” Steinley told CTV News.

He said the first step is to find a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) officer to review the application, something he is working on.

“Once we’ve made contact with the particular ARC agent, we can work with that agent to ensure the process and navigation is reviewed and hopefully moving faster,” added Steinley.

Park said the grants would help, but what’s really needed are customers walking through the doors again. She hopes business will increase as Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 mandates are lifted.

“Hopefully we can start over, have a fresh start and hopefully our hard work pays off,” Park said.

She added that shopping and eating local is important as Regina businesses try to recover from the pandemic.

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