By Ed Hand
EASTERN ONTARIO — Restaurants Canada estimates there are 38,000 restaurants in the province and at least 10 percent closed down during the pandemic.
Rural-area restaurants were not immune but the loyalty shown by farmers and the local community helped many of them survive.
The Country Kitchen in Winchester in Eastern Ontario saw the first hand impact. “The farmers kept coming,” said owner Charles Phelos, who said revenue was down 68%. But locals and farmers “were supporting us by buying take out several times a week.”
Omar Rajab has owned of the Centennial Restaurant in Pakenham for 28 years and said in his com- munity “We kind of look after each other.” As restrictions lift, the farmers and community are coming back in to their familiar tables.
The farming community continues to rally around Phelos and the Country Kitchen as it not only provides hot coffee and beefy break- fasts, “The 4-H Club, Holstein Club, The Beef Association, Agronomists and ATV Club all hold their meetings here,” Phelos said.