Cortes Island’s Food Sector Resuming Services

The Floathouse Restaurant started serving customers at tables a few days ago. While this has changed, people can still sit at tables. The Co-op Cafe has reopened for take-out, albeit only on Wednesdays and Fridays. Squirrel Cove’s Flying Squirrel could start up within a month. Cortes Island’s food sector is slowly resuming services. 

The deck of the Floathouse Restaurant – Courtesy Gorge Harbour Marina Resort

Floathouse Restaurant

Even though they have gone back to offering service from the bar, one of this month’s big stories was the Floathouse Restaurant’s brief resumption of full service.

Bill Dougan explained his decisions:

“I did not feel comfortable with the safety in table service after a week of it and could see issues down the road. We are going with a system of where the restaurant is open, tables in and out can be sat at, all orders placed at the bar and pre paid. When your order comes up, your name is called. This eliminates table service and keeps staff safe. Customers hopefully still have a restaurant experience albeit COVID modified.”

“Check back in a week. I can almost guarantee some change. The restaurant has been the biggest challenge for us and it poses the greatest risk.”

Co-op Cafe Reopens For Pick-ups

The Co-op Cafe reopened for pick-up service, from 10 AM to 3 PM on Wednesdays and Fridays. People can still come in for Spanakopitas, pizza, espresso drinks ,etc. There are two lines: one for ordering and the other for picking up. No more than 15 people are allowed in the Cafe at one time. 

“Sitting in is allowed at 50% capacity, but we really do not have the space for that. We can make some outside seating available, but nothing inside,” explained manager Eric Hargrave

Friday is pizza night, and pickup will be between 4 PM and 6:30 PM.

“Pizza night is very popular, in fact we are adding a second cook tonight so we can do more. We’ve had a maximum of 30 pizzas per night and we sell out in a couple of hours usually.”

People will not be allowed to sit in the Cafe: “As long as physical distancing is around, we won’t do any seating. There just isn’t enough space.”

The Flying Squirrel

The the Flying Squirrel take-out may soon reopen in Squirrel Cove. 

Curt Cunningham, owner/manager of Squirrel Cove General Store, explained, “I am in discussions with Craig who is the brains and heart of the take-out. We want to open in a couple of weeks, but it is not yet definite.”

Many items sold out half an hour after Mansons Friday Market opened on May 29th – Roy L Hales photo

The Markets Reopening

Mansons Friday Market reopened on May 29th. While only three booths were allowed inside the hall, everyone appears to agree it was a success. 

There will be more booths at the June 5th market, especially at the far end of the parking lot. 

Barbara Buffington posted a notice, in the Tideline, that the Gorge Harbour Market will once again be open as of June 27, 2020. Buy “crafts, food, fibre arts and much more – every Saturday, 10AM to 1PM”

Shelves inside Squirrel Cove General Store – Roy L Hales photo

Sales At The Stores

However, as a measure of normality returns, so does the trek of customers off to the less expensive stores in Campbell River.  

Three of Cortes Island’s stores reported increased sales after the island isolated itself in March and April. Eric Hargrave, manager of the Cortes Natural Food Co-op, said sales were 30% higher than normal. This was when the Cortes Market reported summertime-like sales volumes.

Sales started dropping in May. 

Bill Dougan, Manager of the Gorge Harbour Store described this as “a drop in the sales increase.” 

Hargrave quantified this, saying the Co-op’s sales were  still 10% higher than usual.

He thinks they are currently “right at about average.”

The Cortes Market is once again looking for staff, “front end clerks, freight clerks and data entry staff.”

Cunningham said the Squirrel Cove General Store’s, “sales are consistent, but well below other year’s due to the lack of tourists.”

Vehicles on the Quadra to Cortes ferry by Djun Kin via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

What Will The Summer Bring?

“Nobody knows what the summer will bring. Accommodation providers tell me people from the States are cancelling, but then people from B.C. are making reservations,” said Hargrave. 

He expects sales to be lower during the summer, “We just don’t know by what magnitude.” 

Hargrave said that he is starting to encounter tourists, and locals, who have the impression Cortes has a more relaxed attitude towards COVID. 

“We have to do all the same things that everybody in the city is doing. The same protocols; the same measures. Do not come to the Co-op thinking it is going to be any different than what you see anywhere else.”

Top photo credit: One of the Co-op Cafe’s pizzas – courtesy Cortes Natural Food Co-op.