NAC’s restaurant, 1 Elgin, will temporarily shut and lay off staff

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The National Arts Centre’s restaurant, 1 Elgin, is shutting on Saturday and temporarily laying off 20 cooks, servers and dishwashers because of the latest COVID-19 restrictions that ban indoor restaurant dining in Ottawa.

“We made the tough decision to temporarily close our 1 Elgin restaurant … until we can operate again under changed conditions that will create a positive experience to our patrons,” says an email sent Thursday to staff from Nelson Borges, the NAC’s general manager of food and beverage, and Kenton Leier, the NAC’s executive chef.

While 1 Elgin closed in mid-March because of the novel coronavirus, it reopened in late June and had a better summer season than expected thanks to brisk business on its patio, Borges and Leier wrote. The NAC also hosted small weddings this summer and sold out its Chef’s Table events held in collaboration with RBC Bluesfest.

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Two weeks ago, the Ontario government banned indoor dining at restaurants in the province’s pandemic hot zones, one of which is Ottawa, for at least 28 days. The NAC bolstered its patio service at 1 Elgin, but with less than satisfactory results. “With patrons only permitted to dine outside, we added outdoor heaters and blankets but the fall weather has not cooperated and our guests are now few and cold,” says the email.

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