Calgary sees a trend of new, small businesses popping up post-pandemic

Calgary is seeing a positive trend post-pandemic: a number of new businesses opening up.

Sensei Bar officially opened its doors at the end of June, after planning since May of 2020.

“It was tough, it was definitely tough,” owner Karan Seth told Global News. “With what was happening in the world, we just had to pause and put some delays in to try and time it appropriately.”

Sensei Bar is part of a growing trend of new businesses opening in Calgary.

Global Calgary

Seth said although the time is now right, opening a new business has come with some challenges — specifically financial.

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“As a new business, you’re not open to subsidies, you’re not open to some of the other government programs.”

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It’s a problem the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has been fighting for months.

“New businesses have again been locked out of the federal support programs,” CFIB Alberta provincial affairs director Annie Dormuth said. “The wage subsidy, the rental relief subsidy.”

Dormuth added that unfortunately, as Alberta reopened its economy, many of the provincial support programs ended as well.

“So unfortunately for these (businesses) — ones that are now opening in 2021 — they will be having to go it alone.”

The CFIB said the perception of the number of “new” small businesses opening up may also be deceiving.

“When you look at them a little bit closer, actually these businesses were looking to open in 2020 but kind of delayed their opening until they felt they were in a better position to welcome customers,” Dormouth said.

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New restaurants popping up in Calgary

New restaurants popping up in Calgary – Jul 21, 2021

Regardless of the timing, Calgary’s mayor is encouraged by the openings.

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“It has been a really rough time for many local businesses,” Naheed Nenshi said. “I’m thrilled that local entrepreneurs are taking some risks and investing in Calgary.”

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Seth told Global News that so far, Sensei has welcomed a lot of customers, and its opening has been very successful.

And while the restaurant veteran knows challenges are ahead, he’s confident that once Calgarians get a taste of the new reality, they will not go back.