By Justin Seward
Jamal and Diana Hamzy are the owners of Bow Island’s Jimmy’s Drive-Inn and business was down in the neighbourhood of 40 per cent for the first three weeks when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March.
“Business is slower than any other year,” said Jamal.
“But we made sure we locked the sitting area for the first couple of months. It was only serving people through the drive-thru windows.”
As time went along, however, business started to climb day-after-day for the burger and milkshake restaurant along the Highway 3 corridor in town.
“It’s really hard to guess,” he said, of business picking up.
“Maybe the closing of the (nearby city) malls had something to do with it, maybe the full menu restaurant had something to do with it, and the people don’t want to go outside town because of what’s going on. That’s my guess. I really don’t know how to describe that.”
He will have to wait until the end of the year to see how much slower business has been.
With his business being on a main provincial highway and that it’s family-owned, Hamzy does not foresee any changes with less travellers this summer.
“Well since it’s a family business and the whole family is running the show, it doesn’t matter if it gets really slow, I’m going to keep my doors open,” he said.
“Even if it gets really slow, at least I’ll have some income to cover my bills and hopefully I’ll have enough to survive.”
The challenge is to keep going in business and not shutting down and going home, he said.
He added when he and his wife bought the business, it was only going to be a two to three year venture, and they’re 18 years on now.
“We came from just outside Edmonton. I’ve lived there most my life, and when my wife came from Lebanon, she came straight to the Leduc area,” he said.
“She kind of liked it near Edmonton and she really had a great time living near the city because she came from a big city. When we decided to come to Bow Island, we thought, ‘this is in the middle of nowhere.’ She says ‘I don’t know if I’m going to survive in this town and it’s nothing to do with the town.’ It’s the distance between Edmonton and Bow Island.”
Hamzy made a deal with his wife that they would live in Bow Island for two to three years tops and then move back to Leduc.
“She said if that’s the deal that you promise, yes I’ll go,” he recalled.
“I said, of course I promise. I’m not going to wreck my life if we’re not happy. She says, ‘OK.’ After three years, I said, so what do you think? She said, ‘Nah, let’s scratch a couple more years.’ Right now, for my wife, and me Bow Island is home. We’re not going anywhere.”
Plexiglass has been installed, three tables have been removed, and constant hand washing and sanitizing have been changes made at the restaurant.
Jimmy’s Drive-Inn is open from Tuesday to Sunday (10 a.m.-9 p.m.).