WARMINGTON: Pandemic too difficult to avoid for this restaurant

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Muddy Duck on Dundas Street in Mississauga closes

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This famous duck has been able to avoid many attempts to cut its wings over the past four decades.

No bird can fly forever.

It was not the hunters who slaughtered this iconic poultry, nor the latest gastronomic or culinary trend.

The Muddy Duck on Dundas Street in Mississauga had managed to stay above ground for all comers since 1978.

But then came COVID-19 and it turned out to be the formidable enemy the iconic restaurant simply couldn’t dodge against.

“There were a lot of factors that played out, but the coronavirus was definitely a huge one,” owner Luis Orozco said.

Closures, closures, vaccine passports, a struggling economy, rising food and operating costs and a changing country – and just like that, an icon of the west will soar into the sunset.

“It was a perfect storm,” said the owner.

There are many things they could plan to survive, but a seemingly endless pandemic was not one of them.

“It’s not easy because we love our customers and we love our staff,” Orozco said.

“But with a new lease to be signed, it just didn’t make sense with the future of our industry being so uncertain.”

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It’s hard enough to fill restaurants in times of a pandemic, but after two years of hiatus, it’s nearly impossible.

Add vaccine passport warrants and all of a sudden some repeat customers couldn’t get in.

“I was here yesterday and people came to the door and asked if they needed a vaccination passport? Said Orozco, whose staff told them yes.

People cordially left the restaurant, but this is an example of something COVID-19 has brought to the reality of running a restaurant in 2021.

Of course, this is only one factor, but an example of a changing landscape.

This is the bad news. The good thing is that the Muddy Duck has meant so much to so many people for so long.

So many people waddled around and made a quack to take a photo with mascot Walter in the front. So many people have pictures of family reunions there.

“Everyone is our family,” Orozco said.

“We felt so involved. “

Birthdays, graduation ceremonies, birthdays, Sunday morning breakfasts and local sports sponsorship. If you look on the wall they still have many of the teams they supported and if you look closely you will see kids who have played in the NHL including Max Domi.

The Muddy Duck – whether you are mayors like Bonnie Crombie, Hazel McCallion or Rob Ford or a famous musician like Kim Mitchell – treated everyone like they were a star.

For the rest of this week and on Saturdays and Sundays until 3 p.m., people can drop by for another sandwich at the Duck Club or Schnitzel a la Duck and say goodbye to longtime employees Peter Joedicke, Rachel Ryckman, Theo Arbor, Ponampalm Siuakamaran and Nimala Siuakamaran who all work hard to finish running this longtime restaurant with the same great service and food as when it started all those decades ago.

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“We love people and we love to be a part of their experiences,” Orozco said.

“It’s hard to get away from it all.

It may not be forever.

“Maybe we’ll find another location and reopen later,” Orozco said.

Maybe the Muddy Duck will fly again someday.

For now, however, he is soaring into Mississauga history.



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