St. Catharines restaurant shuts down indoor dining, will close completely January 3 for at least a few weeks


Published December 29, 2021 at 11:17 am

A downtown St. Catharines restaurant, best known for its exotic cuisine and available merchandise from around the world, is jumping the inevitable curve and has shut down indoor dining. Soon, even its take-out will be shut down for at least three weeks.

On December 22, Australian-themed Dispatch Restaurant – one of the few restaurants in the entire region to pay Living Wage – announced on Facebook that it was taking the “proactive” step of shutting down dining before the province or region enforced what is likely coming anyway.

At the moment, it’s take-out only but as of January 3, the restaurant will shut down completely until January 20. However, how (or if) it will reopen will be assessed by the owners at that time.

“After constant discussion with our team and monitoring of the surging cases in southern Ontario, we have made the decision to close indoor dining,” the restaurant said in its post.

“Our team’s safety has always been our top priority, and we want to keep everyone as safe as possible. None of our team members have been exposed or tested positive – we are simply being proactive and protective.”

The popular downtown eatery, owned by Aussie native Adam Hynam-Smith and Tamara Jensen, made a name for itself not only for its outstanding cuisine and its Living Wage status but also for finishing ninth on Air Canada’s enRoute Canada’s Best New Restaurants list in 2019, just months after it opened.

Dispatch co-owner Adam Hynam-Smith, lower left, said employees would continue to be paid during their January 3 to 20 shut-down. (Photo: Facebook)

One problem with their recent announcement? Before the decision, Dispatch had taken a number of New Years Eve reservations. To that end, they said, “If you have a NYE reservation with us, you will be contacted directly by our team with the option to switch to a takeaway experience.”

Co-owner Jensen told a magazine the name Dispatch meant several things. “[There is a] double meaning in the restaurant as our team works tirelessly to deliver highly personalized experiences that are thoughtful and effortful behind the scenes, but appear seamless and natural to our guests.”

Dispatch employees can breathe one big sigh of relief – they will continue to be paid while the restaurant is shut down. Because of their Living Wage status, Dispatch does not operate as the traditional tip and minimum wage set-up like many restaurants.