(Barbera Pierce (middle right) stands with her family and colleague on Calico Junctions last day)

Popular poutine diner closes after 47 years due to COVID-19

Owners of Calico Junction recently released a statement on Facebook announcing that they will permanently close.

“It’s an end of an era,” said Calico Junction Owner, Barbera Pierce. “The last several months have been really hard on everyone, but it has especially been hard on small businesses like ourselves.”

Pierce said that the strong restrictions that were put on by the Government of Saskatchewan in response to COVID-19 have put a massive strain on the restaurant’s ability to make any profit. Making it even harder for them to continue to pay rent and afford supplies.

“Being in a food court we were based on foot traffic. With less traffic in the mall, it was tough to make it go,” said Pierce.

She said before the major outbreak of COVID-19, their profits allowed them to break even. Now, with no backing of major corporations like the other stores in the mall, it had become nearly impossible to pay the bills and keep the restaurant open.

The closing of Calico Junction now leaves zero food establishments in Moose Jaw’s Town and Country Mall, leaving the space for other food chains to rent the property.

Moose Jaw Tourism Executive Director Jackie Louex-Mason said that the loss of Calico Junctions will be felt by everyone in the community.

“Anytime we lose a business in Moose jaw it affects all of Moose Jaw,” said Jackie Louex-Mason, Moose Jaw Tourism Executive Director.

Louex-Mason fears that other locally owned businesses and restaurants could eventually follow the same path as Calico Junction. Saying that the transition from dealing with customers face-to-face to online sales is something small restaurants were not prepared for. While other issues such as the reduction of staff and the supply and demand have also hurt the small businesses.

For Calico Junction, Owner Barbera Pierce said the Town and Country Mall tenants offered deferral rent payments until the restaurant could open again, but the offer was too late and they had already made arrangements for it to close.

Locals were also sad to see it go. As many of them said they remember being kids and coming to Calico Junction with their parents, now many years later, they too were bringing their own kids for the restaurant’s popular food and family-owned atmosphere.

The restaurant was able to open for one last day, with strong social distancing rules, to allow locals to buy their last Calico Junction poutine and to say goodbye to 47 years of their favourite family-owned restaurant.