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When Chris Fawbert heard new COVID travel restrictions were on the way he feared it spelled the end for the Java Shack.
Fawbert has owned and operated the Campbell River cafe across from the BC Ferries terminal in the Vancouver Island city for 23 years. But he watched as take-out orders and lunch-time deliveries dwindled through the pandemic.
“We basically had 14 months of continuous bleeding,” he told CBC On the Island’s Gregor Craigie.
Fawbert said he resolved to issue a last-ditch appeal for customers to come back after his daughter, hearing the parents’ conversation, asked: “Is our shop going to close?”
“It broke my heart,” he wrote.
On the cafe’s Facebook page he posted: “This latest health order could quite possibly be our death blow.”
“We know you’re doing your part to keep our community safe, and eventually this pandemic will end, but in all honesty we may not be here when it does,” Fawbert wrote.
He was not prepared for the reaction.
“People started responding within minutes and by the end of the day, it had been shared hundreds of times,” he said. “Within the hour our phone started ringing off the hook. People started lining up outside.”
Orders came in such volumes that staff have had to turn customers away and post notices they were at capacity.
Fawbert now has confidence the cafe will survive through the weeks ahead, despite the current ban on indoor table service.
“What’s taken place in the last 10 days is we’ve been able to compress about three to almost four weeks of sales into that short period of time,” he said. “If the travel bans only go so far as this May long weekend and then it gets lifted, then the summer should be good.”