New Woman Owned Toronto Bar Survives the Pandemic

Jun 30, 2021 | Donation Stories, Featured

Barbara Macphee, a new bar owner in Toronto, shares her experience starting a business during a worldwide pandemic.

Small business owner, artist and cat-lover, Barbara had no idea what was coming for her and her Sport’s bar, Cat’s Cradle Sports and Spirit’s, located on St. Clair Ave. West in Toronto, Ontario in 2020. The difference? She was only in her first year launching the new business, when the pandemic hit. Pre-pandemic, restaurants and bars had a 60% rate of closure within the first 12 months. Barbara has defied all odds, persevered and managed to keep her business afloat through 3 separate lockdowns, among many other challenges.

In December 2020, during the middle of the holiday season and lockdown number 2, Barbara was faced with needing to replace a furnace, leading to frozen and burst pipes. This caused water damage to her electrical system, destroying many of her kitchen appliances. Typically, as long as the drinks are still flowing, a kitchen under emergency reconstruction isn’t the end of the world – as bars generate most of their revenue from alcohol sales. But 2020 was anything but ‘typical’. With constant lockdowns forcingCat’s Cradle to rely heavily on food sales, Barbara was unable to use the kitchen for takeout during a time when it was most needed to financially support the business. The impact of needing to replace electrical wiring and half her kitchen appliances on top of her regular business expenses meant that the necessity of purchasing proper PPE to keep herself and her customers safe was an added stress.

Although a small gesture in the grand scheme of things, when Barbara and her team received their Healthful Plus PPE Donation in the mail, it was a breath of fresh air:

“…receiving a helping hand in the form of a care package- for once our mail was not bills or junk. I think knowing there are supportive outlets for small businesses is a big help, especially in times where money is tight or faith is low. We know there are organizations caring on the outside cheering us on and helping to carry us through. Healthful and helpful.”

For a business in its first year of opening, Cat’s Cradle bar has had to face an exceptional amount of challenges. . Thankfully, Barbara’s bar was able to make it through to 2021 reopening in Toronto, with the help and support of the local community.

“Not really sure how, but if we can survive 3 lockdowns as a new business, I think we will be here for the long haul.” – Barbara Macphee.

Feel like a cold beer and good company? Make sure to head over to Cat’s Cradle Sport’s & Spirits patio to support local.

At Healthful Plus, our mission is to help local small businesses like Barbara’s Cat’s Cradle bar stay safe, by donating high quality face shields and face masks. To register for a PPE donation and see what else we have to offer, visit our shop, where all proceeds fund PPE donations in support of small businesses and essential workers.

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