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Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce shares the story of Izote Latin Cocina and the challenges they face amid a prolonged COVID-19 recovery

(Medicine Hat) – September 9, 2020 – Today, the Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce is sharing the story of Izote Latin Cocina and the challenges it faces to resume normal operations amid a prolonged recovery for the food services industry from COVID-19.

When the pandemic hit, our restaurants were among the first and hardest hit. Notwithstanding their own losses, which includes 800,000 jobs lost, the food services industry stepped up to serve their communities and their customers and continued to bring Canadians together – just in new and innovative ways.

“Early in the pandemic, we made the choice to revert to take-out only, before it had been mandated. None of this was easy or stress free, but having loyal customers and staff that was at risk, it was the right thing to do,” stated Annabel Marroquin, owner of Izote Latin Cocina. “Then we ran into shortage of supplies due to backups at the border. We explored alternatives to try to stay open with shortage of product but we came back to the start with two main concerns - consistency in our authentic dishes and shortage of supplies.” Izote Latin Cocina temporarily shut its doors at the end of March and only re-opened at the beginning of July.

“Temporarily closing Izote, allowed us to plan. We have had to meet challenges head on, from laying off staff that have been with us from day one, to having a small space during a pandemic, has made our response extra unique. However, we have never seen it as a barrier, but more of an opportunity to invest in new hardware, cleaning regiments, business collaborations and outreach. As a family, we will continue to meet these challenges head on and strive to build an experience that is equal parts convenient and safe.”

“The impact of the pandemic on our local food industry has been immense,” commented Tracy Noullett, President of the Chamber of Commerce. “We admire the courage and optimism that owners like Annabel display and we are inspired by their resilience but we know that this recovery will be a very difficult one and we must show our restaurants support in order to help them survive until a time where they can safely operate at full capacity again.”

Pre-COVID, across Canada the positive impact of our restaurants was deeply felt. The industry directly created one out of every 15 jobs (1.2 million Canadians), served 22 million meals per day to Canadians, operated close to 100,000 establishments, paid Canadians $30 billion of wages and benefits, and contributed $31 billion annually to Canada’s GDP.

Today, more than 60 per cent of Canada’s restaurants risk having to close their doors permanently by November, according to government data.

The Canadian Survey on Business Conditions (CSBC), produced by Statistics Canada with support from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, found that 29% of accommodation and food service businesses cannot operate at all with social distancing measures in effect. A further 31% will only able to remain operational for up to 90 days with distancing measures in effect. In other words, up to 60% of the industry could fail within three months.

These figures are even more troubling when you consider the jobs already lost. When COVID hit, 83% of businesses in the accommodation and food services industries temporarily closed and two-thirds were forced to lay off some staff, including almost a quarter that were forced to lay off all their staff.  According to Restaurants Canada, the food service industry lost 800,000 jobs.

 “Our restaurants are cornerstones in communities of all sizes across Canada. By taking the necessary actions to create the conditions for success, together we can create a win-win for more Canadians to get back to work and prevent the failure of a key industry in the coming year,” said Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

While the economy is now slowly beginning to recover, to date the federal government has not offered help tailored to the needs of the hardest hit industries like food services, which will take a long time to recover. That’s why, with the support of the Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and 15 food service businesses, representing more than 60 brands, has launched the ‘Our Restaurants’ campaign.

The campaign puts a spotlight on the current situation faced by Canada’s restaurants amidst COVID-19: high costs, fewer customers, and government programs ill-equipped for the unique, long-term challenges faced by the industry.

“We need to act now. Across Canada, our restaurants are where we meet for business or pleasure, where we got our first job and where our families spend a night out. Simply put, our restaurants are cornerstones in our communities,” said Hon. Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “The ‘Our Restaurants’ campaign underscores the urgent need for Canadians – both the public and our governments – to come together to support these businesses in their time of need.”

In addition to the Our Restaurant campaign, the Chamber has partnered on Local First, a campaign created as a result of feedback received from the Business Retention, Expansion and Workforce Development Survey. This campaign emphasizes all the ways that residents can put local first and is a collaboration between Community Futures Entre-Corp, Medicine Hat Construction Association, City Centre Development Agency, Medicine Hat Accommodation Association, Tourism Medicine Hat, Jim Pattison Broadcast Group, Medicine Hat News, Verge Economic Development and Invest Southeast Alberta.

“Spending our dollars locally is more important than ever,” concluded Noullett. “Our restaurants have helped us mark important milestones in our lives, given us a night off from our own cooking, witnessed our triumphs and commiserated with us when we’ve faced hard times. Now is the time to phone in those take-out orders and make those dining reservations, to show our restaurants that we are that steadfast and loyal presence that many of them have been for our families and community.”

Visit to find out more about actions and initiatives to support Our Restaurants.


Please direct all media inquiries to:

Tracy Noullett, President
Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce
c/o ( 403) 527-5214 ext.225

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