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Richmond restaurants extend hours to boost revenue in tough economy

More restaurants now offer late-night dining options to attract younger customers
Jun Yang opened South Silk Road Restaurant in Richmond three years ago. Daisy Xiong photo

People are cutting down on their dine-out spending as inflation and interest rates climb.

To stay in business, some Richmond restaurants are extending their hours as a strategy to attract more customers in a challenging economy.

Over the past year, at least four Richmond restaurants – Heyjo Music BBQ Bar, Birdie Indoor Golf Centre, Remix Restaurant & Bar (now closed) and Marina One – have extended their business hours or liquor licences.

South Silk Road Restaurant on Westminster Highway, which is known for its southwest Chinese cuisine, also recently extended its hours from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. and offers barbecue after 8:30 p.m.

“The restaurant industry has been hit hard following interest rate hikes and restaurant owners are under pressure,” said Jun Yang, owner of South Silk Road.

“When people have to pay thousands of dollars more every month on their mortgage, where do they get the money from? They won’t have a salary bump overnight, so the easiest way is to save from eating out.”

Yang said the number of local customers to his restaurant has dropped by about 20 per cent over the past one and half years – luckily the number of customers travelling from other provinces and countries has remained stable.

And the cost of ingredients has increased by at least 20 per cent over the past two years, making the margin "thinner and thinner," he added.

According to a Statista survey released last year, almost three in five (62 percent) Canadian respondents claimed that they were eating out less.

And 38 per cent of Canadians say they’re buying fewer menu items at restaurants, according to a recent survey done by payment accessing company Moneris.

Attracting younger customers

Yang said he hopes by keeping the restaurant open later at night, he can give more working hours to his employees. Many of them have been with him since the opening of the restaurant three years ago.

“Everyone is facing the pressure of a higher cost of living, including my employees. If I’m not able to increase their hourly pay, I can give them the option of having more shifts. They have been happy with the change.”

He said he chose to serve barbecue because it caters to young people who are the majority of his late-night customers.

“We specialize in Yunnan (a province in southwest China) cuisine and Yunnan also has great barbecue, so we want to introduce it to people here to offer one more barbecue option in the city,” said Yang.

Attracting more younger customers was also the reason why Marina One applied to the city to have its liquor licence extended from midnight to 2 a.m., which was approved earlier this year.

“Requiring all liquor service to cease by midnight … would put Marina One at a competitive disadvantage relative to other restaurants both in Richmond and the Greater Vancouver area,” read a letter from Marina to city council.

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