A popular New Westminster restaurant is among the casualties of Metro Vancouver’s high cost of living.
Wild Rice Market Bistro owner Andrew Wong has announced that the restaurant will close its doors as of Jan. 1, 2019. Wong cites increased costs (rents, food and wages), difficulty in recruiting/retaining staff and the Lower Mainland’s high cost of living as factors that contributed to the decision to close the restaurant.
“Unfortunately, the climate in the Lower Mainland for independently owned and operated restaurants is not good and seems to be worsening. Most restaurants work with very small margins,” he said in a press release. “We are all familiar with the high cost of living which is reflected in increasing rents and also results in our patrons have less disposable income to spend on discretionary things like restaurants.”
After many sleepless nights, number crunching and discussions with people he trusts, Wong concluded the restaurant was no longer viable in the current economic climate and made the “very difficult” decision to close Wild Rice.
“I have no idea what I will do next. Restaurants have been my life since I was 13 years old,” he said. “I will leave with the satisfaction of knowing we created something very special at Wild Rice, and I will always treasure that knowledge.”
After opening the first Wild Rice location in the Chinatown-Gastown area of Vancouver (it closed in 2014), Wong opened a second location in River Market in November 2011. It will serve its last meal on New Year’s Eve.
“I am so proud of what Wild Rice accomplished in its 17 years,” he said. “We were perhaps the first Chinese restaurant to work with small family farms, local suppliers with organic ingredients, and we were an inaugural member of Ocean Wise. Our beverage list highlighted local wineries, breweries and distillers before it was on trend. We believed in sustainability and lessening our environmental footprint and introduced innovative staff programs to support the use of public transport rather than using cars.”