Niagara Falls business owners prepare to welcome Canadian customers back next month

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Niagara Fall, N.Y. (WIVB) – With the date now set, business owners in Niagara Falls are getting ready to welcome Canadian customers for the first time in more than a year and a half. Starting November 8th, vaccinated Canadians can drive or walk over the borders into the U.S.

“My first pandemic, didn’t know what to expect, but I didn’t think it was going to take this long. It went from two weeks, to a month to over a year,” said Bill Olesiuk, who owns the Craft Kitchen and Bar on 3rd street in the Falls.

He said he’s looking forward to seeing their Canadian regulars grab a beer on tap again.

Restaurant owners along 3rd street tell News 4 that they are excited but wish the border opened up sooner for Canadians because tourism season in the Falls will be over when it does.

“We’re excited. We’re happy neighbors to the North get to come back and drink some beer,” he said. “We’ve been waiting for it for a long time. We almost forgot they existed.”

“I guess the border is opening up, but a little late for the tourist season but we’ll take anything right now,” said Prabhdeep Sandhu, who runs Zaika Indian Cuisine Restaurant.

Sandhu and Olesiuk both say that overall business has been steady with American tourists, but it could be better with the extra foot traffic that Canadians and international travelers bring.

“It’ll be much better once we can cross back and forth like a normal day,” Olesiuk said. “We can go there for breakfast, they can come here for beers and dinner.”

“We’re actually really excited that we might see people from other countries show up too not just Canadian and it will give business a boost,” Sandhu said.

Niagara Falls council member Bill Kennedy also feels the border should’ve opened sooner for Canadians and that not every business has been successful without the revenue Canadians bring to the Cataract City.

“The businesses here, the businesses all around the area need the Canadian dollar, and we’ve been suffering without it,” he said. “Even just for entertainment purposes, things to do for the residents, for the Canadians we wanted to see that exchange of commerce.”

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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