Kelsey’s closes its doors

Kelsey's Cornwall, seen here in this Google Streetview image, is closing its doors temporarily. Staff were reportedly given the bad news Monday, Jan. 2, 2017. (Google Maps via Newswatch Group)

CORNWALL – The new year has come with a huge blow to staff of one Cornwall restaurant.

In a Facebook posting Monday (Jan. 2), Kelsey’s Neighbourhood Bar & Grill Cornwall co-owner Wendy Hargreaves announced that she and husband, Kevin, had made “the very difficult decision to close our doors today.”

Hargreaves added that the restaurant at 960 Brookdale Avenue, next to the Brookdale Center and near the Rotary Traffic Circle, should be opening under new ownership “later this year.”

“We would like to thank all of our wonderful friends, family, staff and guests for their unwavering support over the last seven years. It’s been a place where we have grown exponentially, where guests have become friends and staff have become family. We will truly miss not being your hosts anymore,” Mrs. Hargreaves wrote.

Cornwall Newswatch has learned that employees were given the bad news during a staff meeting around 9 a.m. Monday morning.

In an interview with CNW, co-owner Kevin Hargreaves said the operational costs for the business had exceeded their profit margin. That, combined with a higher minimum wage and increasing utility costs, were putting a squeeze on the business, he explained.

Hargreaves said Kelsey’s had “struggled for months” and should have closed around Dec. 24 but they pushed through the final weeks because he couldn’t “with a good conscience” close the restaurant before Christmas. He also wanted to ensure staff had a final paycheque in January.

Kelsey’s had 27 part time staff, who will likely apply for employment insurance (EI), Hargreaves said.

He said the parent operator – Cara Operations Ltd. – will likely take control of the property and the plans are to have it open again in the next few months. There are some legality issues to work through, Hargreaves said.

As for gift cards purchased at the restaurant, Hargreaves explained that they are underwritten by Cara Operations and would be honoured at other Kelsey’s outlets or the existing location if people decide to hold their gift cards.

Other Cara brands are Harvey’s, Milestones Grill and Bar, Montana’s Cookhouse, St-Hubert, East Side Mario’s and New York Fries.