After 90 years of serving fish and chips, Old Vic Fish & Chips is closing down and is now part of a handful of long-standing businesses that have gone out of business in the last twelve months.
The store at 1316 Broad Street in Victoria will close, but the owners say they are keeping an eye on another location to hopefully reopen elsewhere.
“Either I move it, which means I have to buy an existing restaurant, or I rent a place and renovate it,” said Cindy Qin, owner.
Old Vic Fish & Chips has had various owners over the years. The decision to close was difficult but inevitable. At a September 2021 council meeting, redevelopment of the block on which the fish and chip shop is located was approved to build a hotel. The motion passed seven to one, with then-Councillor Ben Isitt voting against it.
Searching for a new location is difficult. Qin says he wants to stay in the city center but has been unable to find a suitable or affordable replacement. Staying closer to the original location is key
“Last summer, people were like, ‘oh, I don’t like it here, but I think it’s the right place because when I was 13, my grandmother or my family brought me here. That’s why I wanted to come check [the restaurant out]’” the owner said.
THE CLOSING OF LONG-TERM BUSINESSES
The restaurant is part of a handful of long-standing businesses in downtown Victoria that have closed their doors permanently in the last twelve months.
In June 2022, Steveson’s Shoe Clinic closed its doors after 97 years. The owner said that many of the staff were of retirement age and he could not find a qualified replacement.
Capital Iron closed its flagship location and Langford on Store Street in December 2022 before completing 90 years in service. However, the owner of WestCoast Appliance Gallery purchased the intellectual property in the Capital Iron name and intended to continue using it.
Former View Royal mayor and now furniture store owner David Screech told CHEK News in November that after 67 years, he is ready to close his doors. Citing violent threats and damaged property.
THE LANDSCAPE IS CHANGING
Both the Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) have noted a change in the business landscape within the city centre. Bruce Williams says that since the start of the pandemic, businesses that have found success outside of physical locations have shifted their focus to those mediums.
“Actually, there are places that were opened specifically for the purpose of being takeout. They no longer sit down,” said the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce.
“There’s a place on Fort Street called the Refire Kitchen that has that to the point that it’s now expanded to a second location in View Royal.”
Williams adds that the cost of doing business is continually rising and owners are moving more online.
But not all companies have survived.
DVBA’s Jeff Bray says that along with the move online, stores have been closing due to retirement, relocation, an inability to break even or lack of demand for certain specialized services or products.
Bray says the latest downtown vacancy rate stands at 7.9 percent as of 2021 and says local shops still dominate.
“Often it is the independent companies that are closing, but other independent companies are coming in,” said the chief executive. “Especially downtown, there tends to be more entrepreneurial, unique businesses either because of their merchandise or because of the experience they provide.”
Qin plans to take a short break after it closes its doors on January 28, but will stay afloat through his side business. She also has to organize the space for her equipment.
The owner hopes to find a new location within the city center, but may need to consider moving to another community.
Old Vic Fish & Chips is located at 1316 Broad Street.
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