Passek’s Classics Restaurant & Bakery, which has operated in Downtown Kamloops for over 14 years, will be closing its doors at the end of June.
Harry Passek, who co-owns Passek’s Classics with his wife, said rising expenses, a staffing shortage and a decrease in weekday foot traffic downtown contributed to their decision to close.
Passek told Castanet Kamloops he will miss his customers and working with staff who have become like family.
“It was always my dream to have a restaurant, and we were very successful for those 14 years. Kamloops embraced us and loved us and we will never forget what Kamloops did for us,” he said.
“We don't want anybody out there to think we blame Kamloops for any of this. We think a lot of it has to do with the circumstances of the pandemic and just the way things came about as other businesses are suffering as well. So we really wish the best for everybody out there, and hope that this ship will eventually end and people can get back to normal life.”
Passek said he’s noticed the downtown core changing over the last couple of years, especially in regards to how much foot traffic he sees on the streets.
“The homeless issues are part of the problem. There's other other issues, like people are still working from home. …We’ve lost a lot of clientele based on that.”
Passek said the restaurant moved into its current location — 326 Victoria Street — about a year and a half ago, and while he was anticipating an increase in expenses due to the move, other prices started to climb.
“Everything just in the last eight months to a year has just gone up to the point where if I keep raising my prices, who's going to come to my restaurant,” he said.
On top of price hikes and a loss of foot traffic, Passek said the staffing shortage has been a major issue.
“I can't even promote my restaurant to be busier because I can't find any staff,” he said.
Passek said he couldn’t find anyone to fill a full-time staffing position for the night shift, which left him and his wife working 16 hour days if they wanted to be open over dinner hour. The Passeks said they couldn’t keep doing that with no end in sight.
“My wife and I, for the last nine months, almost have not paid ourselves so that we can just make sure we pay our bills, pay our staff, keep our door open, pay our landlord, and just keep things going.” Passek said.
“We had a nice little nest egg for ourselves and most of that has gone now. So we made the decision.”
Passek said he understands many restaurants are struggling with similar issues, particularly staffing — which isn’t just a food service industry difficulty.
"It's just everything in the whole spectrum of working right now. I mean, there's so many people out there that are looking for people to hire, and we're all going ‘Where did everybody go?’”
Over the next month, Passek said he is trying to help his current employees find good jobs using his industry connections.
He describes the staff as being “like a family.”
“I want to do anything and everything I can to help them find a job. Even though I know there's a lot of work out there,” he said.
He said wife will start at a new place of employment on Monday, and will work at the restaurant in the evenings, and he also has some career options lined up.
He said the two of them feel sad to close the business, but are looking forward to a lifestyle change.
“We've both worked for the last 14 years consumed by our business. And so we've given up a lot of the things that we used to do when we were younger,” Passek said.
“It's really sad for us, but at the same token, we know that things are going to be okay. And there's going to be a new chapter in our lives,” he said.