The final act is fast approaching for Mavor’s – a restaurant that has been costing the Confederation Centre of the Arts money for years.
Steve Bellamy, the centre’s CEO, says the restaurant will serve its last meal on Dec. 21, leaving six full-time and 17-part-time staffers out of a job.
Bellamy says expenses have consistently exceeded revenue in the restaurant operation - losses that come directly out of the centre's budget.
He says the restaurant, which opened about 17 years ago, was always intended to be a source of revenue to assist in financing centre activity.
Bellamy says Mavor’s is busy when shows are playing at the centre or other events are taking place in the large building. However, he adds, the basement-level restaurant can be a quiet place for long stretches.
“What has remained consistent is a growing, competitive and very exciting food market place here in Charlottetown that’s not easy at the best of times for anyone in the restaurant business, even when you are at street level,’’ he says.
“And here we are in the basement. Mind you a beautiful restaurant, great staff, terrific food, but unable to compete, I think, in a reasonable way.’’
Bellamy says he was immediately made aware of the financial struggles facing Mavor’s when be started as CEO last fall.
He says the situation was examined “very deeply’’ this year, looking at what has been tried in the past, such as renovations, new menus and different approaches to marketing.
Last year, hours were reduced from January to May with the restaurant opening only three days a week. The restaurant will be open from Tuesday to Saturday until it closes in five weeks.
In the end, says Bellamy, closing the restaurant appeared to be the best move for the Confederation Centre as a whole.
A catering service, which has been profitable, will continue to operate.
Bellamy stresses great effort was made to give staff as much notice – roughly two months - and as many resources as possible to deal with their jobs at Mavor’s coming to an end.
He says the additional space made available when the restaurant closes will be thrown into the discussion for a considerable physical adjustment that will come when the Confederation Centre Public Library moves across the street into what is being billed as a modern cultural and educational place.
Clearing out the library will open up roughly 20,000 square feet of space.
Bellamy told The Guardian earlier this year that there is no shortage of potential use for that space, noting the centre currently rents about 30,000 square feet off site and owns off-site space for both storage and theatre preparation.