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Cedar Hill golf course restaurant closing

Jan 13 2012

The full-service restaurant at the Cedar Hill golf course is to close Feb. 17 because of a lack of business.

The course and restaurant are owned by the municipality of Saanich.

The restaurant lost $342,000 last year, too much for the municipality to ask taxpayers to underwrite, said Doug Henderson, Saanich's director of parks and recreation.

"It's straight economics," Henderson said. "The frustrating thing is that staff have done an amazing job in terms of quality of food and customer service, but we haven't been able to get enough regular business coming through."

The losses were projected to be higher in 2012, Henderson said. The restaurant suffered the same challenges as others, including the economic recession, liquor law changes and the harmonized sales tax, which pushed the restaurant and catering service into the deficit.

From Feb. 18, a light food and beverage service will be provided in the downstairs area that is usually open in the summer.

The reduced service area will then remain open yearround.

Nine of the 23 employees will be able to work in the restructured food and beverage services or other Saanich municipal departments. The 14 on-call employees will no longer be called in for restaurant work, Henderson said.

Mayor Frank Leonard said the layoffs are the worst thing about the decision.

"I can't think in my years as mayor when we've had to do layoffs. We're going to work with them to do what we can," Leonard said.

The closing was a last resort, he said.

Saanich has a mandate of providing affordable recreation. "We think we can continue to provide affordable golfing, but we can't put hundreds of thousands into a money-losing restaurant," he said.

The restaurant space will not be contracted out for another restaurant, Henderson said. It may be used for other recreation programs or municipal purposes.

kwestad@timescolonist.com

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