He survived the pandemic by switching to take out and delivery only, but when the centerpiece of his menu became impossible to find, even Chicken 649 was forced to take a break.
The four-year-old Korean fried chicken restaurant on Quadra Street was closed on Monday – and may remain closed next week. He has not been able to source enough fresh chicken to keep his fryers busy, due to flooding in the Fraser Valley that halted production at several chicken farms.
Owner Heejin Kim said Costco, the restaurant’s regular supplier, didn’t have chicken on Friday, and on Saturday it could only deliver about a third of what it would normally order in a day.
“We are open on Saturday until [we] full, and now we have no more chicken in the restaurant, âshe said.
âOne supplier said his chicken supplier was trying to find a new route to deliver to the island via the US and that will take some time. Another supplier said his chicken was from Abbotsford and the chicken farm was inundated and it would take a few weeks to get back to normal.
Island grocery stores that depend on Fraser Valley producers for chickens and other produce brace for a shortage of poultry products, especially since catastrophic flooding destroyed transportation infrastructure and disrupted supply chains .
Chicken Farmers of Canada said last week that 61 poultry farms had been evacuated, including 22 broiler farms, where chickens are raised for meat.
Kim said they contacted several food vendors and other restaurants, only to find they were all having the same problem. While some have offered chicken, it is often not the part that Chicken 649 needs, or it is frozen.
âWe can open with frozen chicken or use other parts as a substitute, but we don’t want to do that,â she said.
âWe have asked some chicken suppliers to keep chicken for us, regardless of the quantity, when it is delivered. We plan to pick up chicken every day and we could maybe open once or twice a week.
Kim said they feared the shortage could last longer than a week, a blow to a restaurant that has remained open throughout the pandemic, continuing to fill take-out and delivery orders.
Chicken 649 also withstood a shortage in the summer, after the chicken farm used by their main supplier was set on fire in a wildfire.
âAt that time, we could buy chicken in other grocery stores and it only lasted a few days. But this time it’s different, âKim said.
Owners of local restaurants that source as much food as possible locally have said they still receive deliveries of poultry from smaller poultry farms on the island, but they fear increased demand for the small number of people. birds available.
The island’s chicken farmers have shrunk to a handful since poultry processor Lilydale closed its plant in 1999.
Other restaurants have been busy stocking up on what they can and freezing any extra chicken they can get their hands on.
Rob Chyzowski, owner of Belleville’s Watering Hole, has packed all kinds of food for the holiday season.
He said some small restaurants that depend on fresh deliveries because they have limited storage or don’t have the money available to stock, could face shortages in December.