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Reston Cafe Struggles to Keep Doors Open

Gathering places of social interaction have taken a hit over the previous 24 months. This rural Manitoba cafe represents countless conversations, celebrations and a family's livelihood.

Cindy Wong and her mother Annie Chan are finding it hard to keep afloat with the continual mandatory pandemic restrictions. Panda Café, a Chinese and Canadian food restaurant in Reston has had some very tough times these past two years as COVID-19 regulations continue to affect the small dining business.

Cindy and her mother are originally from Hong Kong and moved to Reston in 2001. They purchased the Panda Café and have been running the restaurant for some 20 years. Panda in the Chinese culture means “good luck”, but over the past two years the name hardly applies.

“We both like living in Reston and enjoy the quiet, small community,” says Wong. “Covid has affected us big time and I am so sick and tired of it. If the government doesn’t lift the mandates, everyone is going to go crazy.”

She hopes the government will listen to the general public more.

“No sense saving your body when your mind has gone crazy and then you’re broke.”

Wong says fewer people are dining out. She thinks that the cost of food is becoming an issue. “So, for people to take food out or go to a restaurant it is more like a celebration. Look at the grocery store, everything is so expensive now and it is a lose-lose situation, nobody wins.

“We are just hanging on because it is very tough. I just hope God helps the earth and makes the virus gone. We need to get back to normal again. I hope the convoy truckers can go back home safe and sound and the government lifts all the restrictions.”

Cindy and Annie live upstairs in their Café, which does help out somewhat with extra expenses, but they say it is still a struggle to make ends meet. Cindy works part time in the community to help offset some of the expenses.

“We have had our Café for sale now for about a year, and we would spend half our time back in Hong Kong and the other half here in Manitoba. My son, Travis lives and works in Brandon, so we would want to stay close to him as well,” adds Cindy Wong.

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