Recipe for success

Spike’s Grill navigates pandemic

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This article was published 27/08/2021 (528 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Amanda Cyncora loves her customers, and thankfully they are beginning to return after a tough couple of years.
Cyncora, along with her father Brad, owns Spike’s Grill, which is located in the basement of the Silver Spike at 202 Bond St. It’s a family restaurant, right down to the recipes for hamburgers and perogies that have been passed down through the generations.
The Cyncoras are restaurant veterans. Brad has been at it for more than four decades while Amanda has fond memories of helping out as a child by washing dishes and buttering toast.
“As soon as I could I was cooking,” she said.
Cyncora loves Transcona so much she bought a house nearby. She likes being in the community and visiting with her customers when they cross paths.
“That’s what brings me in every day, the lovely people I get to deal with,” Cyncora said.
Over the past 18 months Cyncora hasn’t seen nearly enough of many of those folks as she would like. As the pandemic loomed, people stayed home. Then came the shutdowns, false starts, re-openings and more shutdowns. It took an emotional toll.
Before COVID-19, business was great, Cyncora said. Through word of mouth it got to the point where people lined up to get in. Then suddenly she was struggling. It was tough on the bank account and tough on Cyncora, who loves to keep busy and surround herself with the people she cares so much about.
The ever-changing rules are tough for small, family-owned restaurants like Spike’s Grill, Cyncora said. At the lowest point she had to lay off staff and throw away supplies.
“You can only freeze so much. A lot of that stuff you cannot freeze,” Cyncora said.
As restrictions changed on short notice it was tough to prepare, she added. Food items have to be ordered and that can create delays at her suppliers. Then she goes out and sees other restaurants not following the rules it has cost her so dearly to comply with. Cyncora wishes there was more uniformity.
“It’s hard to be a rule follower and also a business owner,” Cyncora said. “I have rent to pay and bills to pay, that hasn’t changed. This is my livelihood. How am I supposed to keep this up if I cannot even bring customers in?”
Thankfully business is picking up and is almost where it was before anyone ever heard of COVID-19. For that, Cyncora is very thankful.
Still, she misses the way things used to be, when people weren’t afraid to visit with each other. It’s what makes restaurants like Spike’s Grill what they are — places where folks are greeted warmly and treated great.
“People love that,” Cyncora said. “I know most of my customers’ names, I remember their specials. I see them walk in the door and I put their hash browns on or get their burger ready.
“I miss my people and it’s been hard,” she said with a pause. “They say we’re all together but those first few months I felt like no one was there.”
Cyncora has one final message for everyone: it’s time to help each other.
“Don’t be afraid to support your favourite restaurants, don’t be afraid to go out. It’s still a community and we should all support each other.”

Amanda Cyncora loves her customers, and thankfully they are beginning to return after a tough couple of years.

Cyncora, along with her father Brad, owns Spike’s Grill, which is located in the basement of the Silver Spike at 202 Bond St. It’s a family restaurant, right down to the recipes for hamburgers and perogies that have been passed down through the generations.

Tony Zerucha Spike’s Grill owner Amanda Cyncora shows off one of her signature hamburgers made from a generations-old family recipe.

The Cyncoras are restaurant veterans. Brad has been at it for more than four decades while Amanda has fond memories of helping out as a child by washing dishes and buttering toast.

“As soon as I could I was cooking,” she said.

Cyncora loves Transcona so much she bought a house nearby. She likes being in the community and visiting with her customers when they cross paths.

“That’s what brings me in every day, the lovely people I get to deal with,” Cyncora said.

Over the past 18 months Cyncora hasn’t seen nearly enough of many of those folks as she would like. As the pandemic loomed, people stayed home. Then came the shutdowns, false starts, re-openings and more shutdowns. It took an emotional toll.

Before COVID-19, business was great, Cyncora said. Through word of mouth it got to the point where people lined up to get in. Then suddenly she was struggling. It was tough on the bank account and tough on Cyncora, who loves to keep busy and surround herself with the people she cares so much about.

The ever-changing rules are tough for small, family-owned restaurants like Spike’s Grill, Cyncora said. At the lowest point she had to lay off staff and throw away supplies.

“You can only freeze so much. A lot of that stuff you cannot freeze,” Cyncora said.

As restrictions changed on short notice it was tough to prepare, she added. Food items have to be ordered and that can create delays at her suppliers. Then she goes out and sees other restaurants not following the rules it has cost her so dearly to comply with. Cyncora wishes there was more uniformity.

“It’s hard to be a rule follower and also a business owner,” Cyncora said. “I have rent to pay and bills to pay, that hasn’t changed. This is my livelihood. How am I supposed to keep this up if I cannot even bring customers in?”

Thankfully business is picking up and is almost where it was before anyone ever heard of COVID-19. For that, Cyncora is very thankful.

Still, she misses the way things used to be, when people weren’t afraid to visit with each other. It’s what makes restaurants like Spike’s Grill what they are — places where folks are greeted warmly and treated great.

“People love that,” Cyncora said. “I know most of my customers’ names, I remember their specials. I see them walk in the door and I put their hash browns on or get their burger ready.

“I miss my people and it’s been hard,” she said with a pause. “They say we’re all together but those first few months I felt like no one was there.”

Cyncora has one final message for everyone: it’s time to help each other.

“Don’t be afraid to support your favourite restaurants, don’t be afraid to go out. It’s still a community and we should all support each other.”

Tony Zerucha

Tony Zerucha
East Kildonan community correspondent

Tony Zerucha is a community correspondent for East Kildonan. Email him at tzerucha@gmail.com

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