UFO - Ukrainian Food Awesome owners Pavel and Tanya Anokhin. (Trevor Ford photo)

Airport cancels Cafe contract

Town of Smithers says financial impact of COVID-19 and future uncertainty made termination necessary

The town of Smithers has cancelled its contract with the cafe owners who operate out of the Smithers Regional Airport (YYD).

This comes after all flights in and out of YYD were cancelled for at least the month of April amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The Town’s Chief Administrative Officer Alan Harris said with the financial impact to the airport due to the COVID-19 pandemic the Town has exercised its right under the contract’s terms to terminate.

The owners of the cafe, called UFO — Ukrainian Food Awesome, have been operating in the airport since 2017.

Pavel and Tanya Anokhin wrote on the restaurant’s Facebook page the decision to end their contract was unexpected.

“No contacts with us, no email, no calls, no discussing, just notice… We asked town administration to suspend our contract till [the] airport will be reopened so we can continue to run the business at the Airport, but the decision was final.”

Pavel told The Interior News this comes as a tremendous blow to their family as it was their only source of income.

“It is an uncertain future for the airport and for everyone. They wanted to cancel the contract because they just don’t know. They have no choice. As soon as everything goes back to normal, it will go back out to tender.”

He said they also invested a lot of money into the cafe including purchasing a coffee machine and crepe station.

“It’s life, sometimes it isn’t easy,” he added.

However, he said the support they’ve received from the community since announcing the closure has been incredible.

“We know our customers like us, but we didn’t know they were ready to help us and do whatever they can. It was a very good compliment for us,” he said.

When the airport resumes its regular flights and the opportunity arises for them to bid on operating a restaurant in the airport, Pavel said they would love to apply depending on when that occurs.

“We can’t wait six months. Some people are saying it could be a year or so, they aren’t even sure. But we like it and the customers like us. We will try it again if we can. First we need to find a source of income, we have bills to pay. But we would be happy to come back.”

Harris said once the Town has had time to recover from the financial impact, which they do not anticipate will be until 2021, the Town will be looking at the resumption of food service at the Airport. He added the contractor was informed that they are welcome to respond to any advertised RFP at that time.

Pavel isn’t sure yet what he will do in the foreseeable future but is trying to be optimistic.

“This could be a chance for us to do something different, get some new experience and get new ideas for the future,” he said. “We are always looking for improvements, so who knows, maybe it is a good time for ideas?”

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