Food can be found again at Founders' Food Hall and Market in Charlottetown squib

As of this weekend, tasty treats are once again being served at the Founders' Food Hall year-round market in Charlottetown. The business was just seven months into operations when its doors were shuttered in March due to COVID-19.The market was the only year-round location for Fritz Chocolates and Maritime Marzipan. When it closed, chocolate production came to a halt."It stopped our business right in its tracks," said Jessica Fritz, who co-owns the business with her husband Mike Fritz. But the sugar is flowing again, and that's a sweet sensation for Fritz. "We are really happy to be back," she said, despite knowing it will be a very different summer with limited tourists and no cruise ships. "We are definitely looking forward to seeing how things evolve."Because of the pandemic, Fritz said she is cleaning and sanitizing more and is asking people not to touch things they don't plan to buy. She has also had to change how they offer samples.  "We did package little chocolate sample bags to give out once we talk to someone who would like to sample something," she said.Things are being done differently throughout the rest of the food hall and market as well. There are specific entrance and exit points with hand sanitizer available, and markings on the floor to promote physical distancing. Tables are spaced out and are wiped down after every use, and the upstairs lounge area is still off limits. Near the entrance to the market, Doughnuts by Design owner Kip Rosevold chops bits of chocolate to sprinkle on top of some doughnuts. He too has tweaked his business practices.  "We've got our Plexiglas along the front part," Rosevold said. "We sanitize all the time anyway. Now we are keeping our distance as much as we can," he said, adding baking equipment is also sanitized throughout the day.Rosevold said when the storefront shut down he started to offer online orders and curbside pick-up. Something he has decided to continue even though some restrictions have been lifted and he enjoys being back at Founders' Food Hall."It's great to be around the other vendors too, we all look at each other and go 'yes, we're back, we're back,'" he said.Atlantic bubbleAs for the rest of the summer, Rosevold is curious to see how business will be affected once more travel between provinces is allowed. On July 3, people from all four Atlantic provinces will be allowed to travel within the region without self-isolating. "I'm certainly hopeful it will bring business. Now as far as the Islanders themselves go, I don't know. Is that going to make them stay home? I am hoping not, but you know, everyone is still worried about people coming across the bridge," he said.Down the hall, at Big Burger, owner Charbel Jreij waits on a line of customers before finding a moment to talk. "It's been very difficult as a small business owner," he said.He chose the food hall for his location to capture the tourism market. Because the hall opened in August of last year, he only got a taste of that lucrative business but, "it was good, it was fruitful.""We got a feel how this building operates and the capacity of the building and the flow. It was beautiful to be honest."He was counting on those tourists this year, but with cruise ships shut out of Canada for the summer, and uncertainty around tourism in general, he's hoping to get a boost from the Atlantic bubble. "I welcome it big time, because we highly count on local tourism like staycations and local tourism and the locals have been so great doing that, but we know the population is not here," he said."Local tourism is important, but it is not enough," he said."We need the numbers. We need more people to come in."Jreij said he has a location at the Charlottetown Mall that counts on the local market, but the location at the food hall market was created to help the business expand. Jreij said expansion won't be happening this year.More from CBC P.E.I.
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