More local home businesses have opened since pandemic began

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Municipal spokesperson Greg Bennett said many of the new home businesses are contractors responding to flood recovery efforts.

Paxton is selling foods that Alberta Health Services considers “low-risk,” meaning they do not require refrigeration or have a high chance of food-borne illnesses. The province has allowed this since June 2020.

Dianna de Sousa, executive director of the Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce, said home businesses have a complex impact on the community.

On one hand, home businesses offer employment, provide a service and generate revenue. But, de Sousa said traditional brick-and-mortar businesses are struggling to carry overhead costs, such as rent, during a time when they cannot benefit from foot traffic.

“Right now, I would say it’s very tough and probably somewhat not a level playing field, because one is carrying a heavier cost,” she said. “When things get back to normal than there’s an advantage of us going out to dinner.”

An employee makes a meal in the 57 North Kitchen and Brewery kitchen on Wednesday, February 3, 2021. Laura Beamish/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network jpg, FM

Some new businesses avoiding traditional storefronts are too large to be run from a home and have opted for other models.

57 North Kitchen and Brewery has allowed two “ghost kitchens,” meaning they offer only food delivery and do not have a sit-down space, to operate out of its kitchen. Pork N’ Bones barbecue started in September, while Savor Global Kitchen began in January.

The three independent brands keep kitchen staff employed full-time while servers can deliver food.

“If there’s going to be a positive that comes out of these shutdowns and everything that’s gone on, it’s watching the local business people be creative and think outside the box,” said Andy Parker, president of 57 North. “There’s been some great ideas out there.”

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