The unmistakable aroma of injera and rice filled Zehabesha’s dining room Monday afternoon.
For the first time in months, the traditional Ethopian restaurant opened the space to dining customers craving slow-cooked beef stew, kik alicha or curried chicken.
Co-owner Dinku Tadesse couldn’t be happier — or more appreciative.
Tadesse, who runs the downtown spot with his wife Eline Baye, said Yellowknifers were extra supportive during the closure. The award winning-husband and wife duo offered takeout and delivery amid health restrictions brought on by Covid-19 — and they’re continuing to provide the service. Customers have routinely given generous tips amid hard economic times.
“We are saying, ‘thank you and thank you again’ to the community,” Tadesse said.
Like many other small businesses impacted by the pandemic, Tadesse said Zehabesha’s bottom line took a hit.
“It was a difficult, difficult time,” he said.
With tourism ground to a halt, Tadesse knows the road ahead won’t be easy. But he’s remaining optimistic — confident in the quality of his food and the community’s love for it.
“Hopefully we have a bright, bright future. I wish for that. We’re going to serve the community. That’s it,” said Tadesse.
With phase two of the territory’s recovery plan now underway, Zehabesha is one of several city businesses to open its doors to in-restaurant dining in recent days. Other business owners are preparing to do the same.
The second stage of the GNWT’s Emerging Wisely Plan went ahead on Friday, allowing establishments to serve customers — at a limited capacity of 25 people — indoors and on patios.
The Black Knight Pub and Sam’s Monkey Tree opened their patios and dining areas on Friday evening. Bullock’s Bistro, a Yellowknife favourite and a staple in Old Town, got up and running again on Saturday.
Not all restaurants are moving ahead with dine-in options just yet, though.
Ed Butt, owner of Coyote’s Bistro and Lounge, is holding off until July 1 amid concerns about a second COVID-19 wave.
“I just want to make sure it’s safe for my staff and my family,” said Butt.
As for fast food restaurants — McDonald’s, Subway, A&W and Mary Brown’s — are still only offering takeout for the time being.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the restaurants, pubs and coffee shops that now offer dine-in and patio choices:
Copperhouse Eatery and Lounge, at 484 Range Lake Road, opens its doors for dine-in on Tuesday. The lounge is limited to patrons ages 19 and up, while the patio will be open for all ages. The Range Lake Road restaurant won’t be taking reservations.
“Walk ins are welcome. Once you’re inside, please wait for a server to seat you and walk you through our new phase two procedures,” states a Copperhouse online post.
Red Apple Restaurant
Location: 4701 Franklin Ave
What’s open? Dining area is open
Hours: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sam’s Monkey Tree
Location: 483 Range Lake Road
What’s open? Patio and dining area
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (patio subject to closures depending on the weather)
Black Knight Pub
Location: 4910 49 St.
What’s open? Patio and dining area
Trader’s Grill (Explorer Hotel)
Location: 4825 49th Ave
What’s open? Hotel restaurant
Hours: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.; 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Location: 3534 Weaver Dr.
What’s open? Dining area
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Location: 4910 Franklin Ave
What’s open? Dining room
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Location: 5102 48 St.
What’s open? Dining area and bar; plans to open the patio next week
Hours: 11 to 10 p.m.
Location: 5201 Franklin Avenue
What’s open? Indoor seating area
Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.