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Opinion: ‘This sucks’: Popular Victoria restaurant shuts down, blames ‘staffing shortages’

As diner fumes, business shuts its doors
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A sign at the Victoria Original Joe’s location on McKenzie Avenue. (Chris Campbell photo)

In the world of foodies – of which I consider myself a hungry member – people will latch onto a restaurant they love and remain dedicated to it.

It could be just a single menu item that they adore or a raft of dishes – or perhaps it’s the staff that makes them come back again and again.

So I tried not to judge “Marie from Victoria” too harshly when she contacted me several weeks ago to express her frustration that her favourite restaurant/hangout had shut down.

The place in question is Original Joe’s on McKenzie Avenue in Victoria.

“This sucks,” she told me. “I had been going there because I loved the vibe and now it’s gone.”

Now some might laugh because many foodies are snobs and won’t consider Original Joe’s worth missing because they don’t respect chain eatery/lounges like Cactus Club or Earls.

As I said, I try not to judge.

I just moved to Victoria a month ago and had to bid goodbye to my local Red Robin in Burnaby, B.C. – not the most creative menu, but the staff were amazing and it was one of the only places really close to my home. I liked the way I was greeted when I came in to watch a game at the bar. It just worked for me.

So I get where Marie is coming from.

The sign on the window of Original Joe’s says it’s only closed “temporarily” but the online listing says it’s permanent and the location is no longer listed on the company’s website.

I don’t know how long it’s been closed, but what I found interesting was the note on the door blaming “staffing shortages” for the closure.

I’ve heard this excuse from many retail businesses and restaurants. Frankly, I wonder if the term is actually correct.

Is it a “shortage” of staff – implying that there just aren’t enough workers available in the job pool through natural means – or is it that workers have fled the restaurant industry because they are fed up with how they are being treated?

This is a real thing.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had many workers re-evaluating their careers. They are fed up with unpaid overtime, abusive bosses and customers, low wages, plus being constantly jerked around on their shifts. I’ve spoken with many servers who were exhausted after being forced to work until midnight one day and then having the shift the next day being the early one.

Many of these people have decided that enough is enough.

My own daughter works as a barista while attending school and left her last job because the boss started cutting back everyone’s shifts.

A whole bunch of staff suddenly quit and the boss expressed confusion as to why this was happening.

So before complaining about there not being enough workers, maybe look in the mirror.

The power balance has shifted somewhat with so many places hiring. Before, restaurants could do whatever they wanted to staff because there was a seemingly endless supply of workers to fill any vacant spots.

Now that is not the case and we’re seeing the consequences with restaurants either shutting down or cutting back the days that they are open.

READ MORE: Victoria’s biggest toy store closes its doors forever

Do you have a story tip? Email: chris.campbell@blackpress.ca.

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Chris Campbell

About the Author: Chris Campbell

I joined the Victoria News hub as an editor in 2023, bringing with me over 30 years of experience from community newspapers in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley
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