One business was particularly hard hit by the strike of unionized municipal workers this year, and it is still recovering.
That was Sub on the Hub, a takeout that has a prime location in the Don Stewart Recreation Centre.
However, that prime location was not so good when the rec centre was closed during the strike.
Dragon Huang, who has owned and operated Sub on the Hub for the past two years with his wife, Michelle, said they were very worried when the strike began in February.
“But the town manager kept saying to us this won’t last long,” he recalled. “Probably a couple of weeks.”
Huang, the cook and manager at Sub on the Hub, said he and his wife, who is the cashier, didn’t know what to think at first because they had never been caught up in a strike before.
“So we don’t know what it looks like in fact on our business,” he said. “So after two or three weeks, we go back to the town office. They said, ‘Oh, probably it will last about six weeks.'”
Huang said he and his wife did some paperwork at home as they waited, and waited and waited.
“Finally, we wait seven months to reopen it,” he said.
Sub on the Hub reopened on Sept. 8 after being closed seven months.
However, it was not simply a matter of reopening.
“When we come back, it was very hard for us, because lots of our food had expired,” said Huang, adding that it had to be thrown out, along with some beverages that had become outdated.
In all, they lost about $5,500 in stock.
However, Huang said the Town of Hay River assisted in the situation.
“Because of what we lost on the stock, the town gave us back what we lost,” he said. “They gave us a $5,000 cheque.”
Under an arrangement with the town, the Sub on the Hub leases the concession space at the rec centre but did not have to pay rent during the strike.
Michelle Huang said, at first, the strike offered a break from working.
“Taking a rest is OK, but after it was very long,” she said, adding that things became worrying the longer the strike lasted.
Dragon Huang said he was always confident that Sub on the Hub would reopen after the strike was over.
Mayor Brad Mapes was happy to see the return of Sub on the Hub.
“It was great to see them back,” he said.
Mapes said it is also great to see people in the rec centre once again, pointing to a recent busy weekend when there was a swim meet and a hockey tournament.
Huang said he is happy to be back in business
And he said the business is “very close” to where it was before the strike.
The first two months after reopening were not good enough, he said. “But it’s really picked up now.”
When the takeout reopened, the winter was very close, and that’s the best season of the year for the business.
It took some advertising and about four weeks before business started to pick up.
Michelle Huang said customers were “very excited and happy” to see the return of Sub on the Hub.
The Huangs, who are both originally from China, have been in the restaurant business in Hay River for 19 years, and had never before been off work for seven months.
During that time, they kept busy by fixing up their house, and the family went on a holiday in the summer.
Dragon Huang said the family was surviving on savings, saying, “That’s when it was a little hard on us.”