December 11, 2018

Ivey’s restaurant in downtown Galt provides a taste of the Caribbean in Cambridge, but some of the challenges it faces are startling.

According to Sydjea Kimberly Ivey, daughter of the owner of the restaurant, it’s a labour of love where Ivey and her mom and dad work.

Clifton Augustus Ivey at Ivey’s resturant in Cambridge, Ont., on Saturday, Dec 1. Photo By Ahmad Khan, Conestoga College/Journalism

When her mom decided to open the restaurant in the summer of 2006, it was not just for business but also for personal reasons to “bring the community together through food and stories.”

Ivey’s mother believes that the restaurant has a social mission as well. 

“If we see someone who is hungry, we will give them free soup,” Ivey said. “At the end of the day, we distribute all of our leftovers as well.”

Behind the tranquility and apparent stability, the restaurant faces many challenges. The establishment has been broken into and its outer premises have been vandalized. Someone even cut the cord to the fire alarm once.

These incidents have added a whole new layer of stress for Ivey and her family, which have forced them to take additional measures to ensure the safety of the guests and the staff. 

Owners
Bridget Anestine Ivey (L) with her daughter Sydjea Kimberly Ivey in Cambridge, Ont. Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. Photo by Ahmad Khan.

“There have been times we had to refuse people service because they would not stop smoking in the restaurant. We had to move our freezer from the floor of the main restaurant to the back of the counter because people would just come in with backpacks and take a drink from the freezer and then walk out. We were losing up to $200 a month on drinks alone,” Ivey said.

“Some people would purposely bring their pets to the front of our restaurant and let them urinate or even poo there.”

The opioid crises has really exuberated the problem, and Ivey said the amount of people coming in and acting aggressively has gone up dramatically in the past two years.

“It is because of this type of crowd that we do not sell alcohol at the restaurant. We could make a lot more money, and attract more people. Even though our customer base is expanding, doing business here is not as easy as it used to be. But we are determined to move forward.”

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