Wednesday, July 20, 2011

the woes of 2011 in Stratford...

It's dead in town...I find myself pondering the necessity of a job outside the service business.  What has happened to our fair city this year?

Everyone held out through May and June "It's always slower than you remember" we said to one another.  But something is different about this season.  Aren't we supposed to be re-bounded from the recession?  Yes, our dollar may be a little too strong for the average American tourist, but they'll still come right?  The line-up of shows is perhaps geared too heavily toward 'theatre buffs' and not enough to the general populace, but that shouldn't matter!  Even our best selling, most raved about show, Jesus Christ Superstar, is selling out - though that just means it's impossible to get tickets.

Stratford cannot live on one show alone!

There really isn't much to be done about it, but it has made the entire business of restaurant-ing a little extra tough this time around - this creates a situation where everyone's stresses start affecting each other.

Owners are stretched thin, working longer hours than they'd like to save labour costs and still coming up shorter than they can afford;  Managers are feeling the pressure from bosses breathing down their necks forcing them to tighten their labour and cut more servers more often; Servers are significantly down in income over-all, schedules are a nightmare - constant cuts and on-call shifts that often turn out to be duds even when you get to work them!  Servers then in turn put pressure on bosses, everyone wants better shifts, morale is way down and the service suffers, ultimately hurting the bottom line.

I think this season has upped the ante - and our restaurants are not delivering (a topic for another post).  This will be a tough year for some of the best restaurants in town but it will certainly separate the 'wheat from the chaff' where the weaker venues are concerned.

If anyone has any insight I would appreciate the input!


  1. Theatre schedule & choice of plays has had a definite impact downtown. And for sure, Superstar is the only play drawing in folks in any real numbers. Shameful that SSF has chosen to rely on just 1 play for success. They also seem oblivious to the connection to their theatres success if the downtown dies- the experience is diminished and people won't return next year. The added insult is taking the only play doing well to the USA instead of extending it right here in our town?! STA is trying to offset but other economic factors are playing against us I fear right now. Yep, SSF needs to work with the bizs in town so we all can be successful together!

  2. Yes, Jesus Christ Superstar is selling out and doing great. Camelot is the other musical performance and it's wonderful. In addition, Twelfth Night, one of the most beloved of the plays, has a fantastic musical score and the benefit of Brian Dennehy's performance.

    There is nothing about the lineup this year that would fail to draw tourists - it's all about the economy and in that, we're all together.

  3. Seen them all- decent plays. Superstar is great. Sorry, but the plays are weak. Fair but not great. Schedules are weak too. Too many day plays, not enough incentive to stay over night. Its sets up a one play and gone scenario at best. I'm sure year 60 will be better. But the SSF needs to make a schedule that gives visitors the desire to stay overnight. If they fly into town, hit 1 restaurant, the theatre and leave it ain't gonna help the city. Oh yeah, the extraordinary high cost is not helping either. $130 including HST is getting waaaaay out of reach for the average person. SSF does good work, but has to think about its audience, its ability to buy tickets, its desire to experience Stratford-ALL OF IT! I hope it gets fixed but I don't believe the SSF will help us long term. We need a wider vision to attract a new breed of visitor that doesn't even care that we have SSF. Then we can see some change.

  4. I am in dowtown retail and there is a definite quiter energy to our streets this year -- too quiet. :O

  5. i agree with anonymous #2,july 20, 9:57p.m. the palybill is great and those seeing the plays have truely enjoyed them!!! the economy on the other hand is out of our control! SSF is working very hard to fill their seats. the STA, i thought their mandate was to work on the shoulder seasons, don't see much help there. what is the answer to this year, if i new i would most definitely share it!!!! knocking our beloved ssf is IDIOCY!!!!!!

  6. the use of the word effect in your sentence "where everyone's stresses start effecting each other" is incorrect.

    effect: a result: something brought about by a cause or agent
    affect: to have an infuence or cause change in

  7. Thanks Anonymous 12:22AM it has been corrected in the post. I have to be honest, I have never mastered the correct usage of those words and probably never will ;) I actually went back and forth on it before posting. I guess I need an editor!