Winnipeg restaurant owner says business getting more dangerous

Some in the Winnipeg restaurant industry say the business is becoming more dangerous, following a violent attack at a Burger King on Osborne Street. Morgan Modjeski reports

A Burger King on Osborne Street is where another attack at a restaurant in Winnipeg has taken place and sent a 45-year-old man to hospital in critical condition. Some in the restaurant industry say the business is becoming more dangerous.

Police were called to the 200 block of Osborne at around 10 a.m. Tuesday where they found a man with a serious injury to his upper body. The suspect – police say is known to law enforcement – but fled the scene before officers arrived and provided emergency medical care. 

Jonny Lee owns Chosabi on Portage Ave. and says running an eatery is getting harder in Winnipeg. Whether it’s dealing with people behaving erratically, stealing drinks, or the tip jar, he says crime is almost constant.

Owner of Chosabi on Portage Avenue says crime and other instances of problematic behaviour happen on a weekly basis at his restaurant in Winnipeg. (Photo Credit: Morgan Modjeski, CityNews)

“One of my staff quit before because of this. He doesn’t want to stay downtown. He doesn’t want to work in the downtown. He just left, because of that,” explained Lee. 

“It happens every week and it is quite stressful, but there’s nothing I can do.” 

The violent incident at Burger King is the third at a restaurant in a year. In Sept. 2023 a server was attacked at an Olive Garden and in January the owner of the Cork and Flame was killed in an attack outside the eatery.

Police say generally the public should be aware of their surroundings and make every effort to remove themselves or disengage from people who appear agitated or violent. 

“Unfortunately, there are occasions where incidents occur quickly and unprovoked, and the reality is very little can be done in advance. Calling 911 immediately and providing as much information as possible should always be a high priority,” said WPS in a statement.

As for business owners like Lee, he’s now told his staff to avoid confronting people behaving badly, saying while the crime hurts his business the safety of the people who work for him is more important. 

“I tell my staff to just leave them alone, I tell them just to leave them alone because if somebody gets hurt, you lose more — you lose more than the money,” said Lee.

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