Inflation blamed for closure of Windsor restaurant

A Windsor, Ont. couple says their dream of owning a business together has been shattered after less than a year due to inflation pressures.

“Everything looked good on paper. Then everything changed in the economy,” said Baby Backs Restaurant co-owner Stephen Burko.

Management for the restaurant announced the upcoming closure on social media Friday, noting it’s the “right decision in these economic times.”

According to Burko, the cost of ingredients has risen to a point he never expected when the couple took over the lease for the restaurant just eight months ago.

“The lettuce, tomatoes, everything we need for the sides, our salad, macaroni — everything’s going up in price so that’s where we’re struggling,” said Burko.

But the current situation with Windsor’s auto sector also plays a major role in management’s decision to step away, Burko added.

That’s because the restaurant sits on Pillette Road, about a five-minute drive from the Windsor Assembly Plant (WAP) which has seen frequent shutdowns in recent months.

Baby Backs Restaurant is also a five-minute drive from the Syncreon feeder plant.

On Thursday, Stellantis confirmed to CTV News the work that’s currently done inside the Syncreon plant for Windsor Assembly will be moved out of the feeder plant and relocated to inside WAP.

“That’s another reason why we didn’t want to raise our prices, because we have a lot of customers from there,” said Burko, adding the restaurant already tried raising its prices slightly but doesn’t want to risk “outpricing our demographic. “

“With the gas prices going up, now people have less money to spend. We’re seeing that our revenue is not as good as it was.”

Financial experts have previously said the rate of inflation has skyrocketed to its highest level in nearly seven decades.

Part of the rise includes the cost of food rising about 10 per cent, compared to last year.

Burko says he had big plans for the restaurant, including giving the restaurant a paint job and renovating the entrance way, all while being able to keep five staff members employed.

But with their landlord allowing the couple to pull out of their one-year lease early, they now plan on selling whatever items they can to try and recoup their money.

“My wife and I have both work full-time and we’re having to use that money to try and keep this open. We can’t do that anymore,” said Burko, adding he’s just five years away from retirement.

“I’ve worked too hard for too many years. This was a dream and, unfortunately, it has to come to an end.”

The restaurant will serve its last meal under the current ownership, on Jul. 31.

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