No banquets, no revenue: Windsor event venues lose millions during COVID-19 crisis
WINDSOR, ONT. -- Very few businesses have escaped the crippling grasp of COVID-19.
Among those feeling the pinch are Windsor’s Italian Clubs which have been shut down since mid-march.
“We’d normally be gangbusters right now,” says Ciociaro Club president, Mark Rossi, whose club halls are instead sitting empty.
“Right now our business is zero,” says Ron Moro, the general manager of the Giovanni Caboto Club, which from March to the end of July, had to cancel or postpone 391 events.
“It’s millions of dollars for us and that’s not coming back,” he says. “I’m not optimistic about August. I’m not overly optimistic for the rest of the year, for large events.”
The club — founded in 1925 — will begin doing takeout for its famous pizza on June 11, but Moro longs for the day it can open up the bar and restaurant to patrons.
“There’s nothing we can do about it, we’ll live with it. We’re financially strong, so we’re not going anywhere, but we’ll have to live through 2020, that’s all,” says Moro.
It’s much the same over at Foglar Furlan Club — which is launching the new takeout service ‘FOGO to GO’ to bring in some much-needed revenue.
“We’ve done that just to pay the bills, pay the utilities, keep the lights on and just basically run our basic functions that we need to,” says Dino Quattrociocchi, the club’s general manager.
He recently had to cancel a handful of graduations and baptisms and postpone weddings, which make for difficult conversations with brides and grooms-to-be. Quattrociocchi is thankful most patrons have been very understanding and have been willing to reschedule.
“We’re letting our clients know, the brides and grooms know, letting our corporations that have their annual events here know that our intention is to be here and we’re going to do whatever it takes to do it,” he says.
The Ciociaro Club also launched curbside takeout service today — to help offset a fraction of the lost revenue from 500 events they’ve had to cancel and postpone each month.
“It’s frustrating we don’t have answers to the questions we’re getting,” says Rossi, referring to the lack of information flowing to them from the government about when restrictions will be lifted. “It’s frustrating that we’re not able to give them those answers, but we’re here to help as much as we can. And offer them as much solace as we can during these trying times.”
Rossi tells CTV Windsor its losses are also in the millions, but the club is in a good financial position to weather the storm.
“We’ve learned a lot from this shutdown,” says Rossi. “Things were going really fast and really heavy and it’s given us some time, reflect on what the club, what we’re going to be when we come out of this and much stronger and more viable in the future.”