The Covid-19 crisis has claimed a Hay River restaurant – at least temporarily.
Yuki, a Japanese restaurant, closed its doors on April 25.
“It’s Covid-19, this pandemic,” said Chris Ahn, the manager and one of the owners of the restaurant.
Ahn said the business, which had been looking forward to its busiest period in the summer before the crisis began, had to close down its dining room in March and revert to takeout only.
“Of course, business is going down, sales are going down,” he said. “It’s hard to keep our staff.”
The closure had been announced on Facebook as permanent, but Ahn said that may or may not be the case.
“It’s hard to say is it permanent now. It’s kind of permanent,” he said. “But when it’s normal, we’ll reopen.”
Ahn was asked if he and the other owners had considered trying to wait out the Covid-19 crisis.
“No one knows when it’s going to be done,” he replied. “Even if it’s three months later, small businesses are all the same. We cannot run like this for three or four months.”
Yuki opened in June of last year.
Ahn noted that restaurants in his home country of South Korea are also suffering from the Covid-19 crisis.
“One of my friends already closed his restaurant,” he noted.
For now, Ahn will concentrate on managing The Rooster convenience store and gas bar.
Yuki was going well before Covid-19, he said. “It was fine. Sales kept going up, slowly, slowly. People get used to our food, new food. We were hoping it was going to be a good business for the people and for us.”
Ahn hopes that Yuki will eventually reopen.
“This is my dream,” he said.
The manager recognized the assistance of Jane Groenewegen, who owns the building with her husband.
“She’s awesome,” Ahn said. “She helped us a lot.”
Groenewegen said it is very disappointing to see Yuki closing, noting the owners have done a good job with the restaurant.
The landlord said the building is not going anywhere, so it’s possible that Yuki may reopen.
“They were on that upward trajectory with their menu and really honing the product to the clientele and to their market and their audience,” she said. “We were very big fans of their food. We ate there often. They did a really good and a really professional job of running that place, and I hope it’s not the end. But it’s just farewell for now, and hopefully they’ll be back.”
Groenewegen and her husband previously operated the Driftwood Diner at the location for over six years.
The building has also been the site of a KFC and a bakery.
Ahn and the other owners of Yuki – his wife Minee Yoon, Joey Jung and Nicole Wang – are all originally from South Korea. In 2017, Ahn and Jung came to Hay River to run The Rooster.