VICTORIA — Some Victoria eateries are raising their prices or adding flat fees to their services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

One popular Victoria bakery, Fol-Epi Bakery and Café, raised its prices by as much as 25 per cent on Monday to remain viable as a business and support its staff, according to management.

The shop says it has seen a large drop in sales as a result of the pandemic and its staff have been put under increased stress. Management saw the need to relieve some of the stress by paying them more.

“We’ve been wanting to do this for years but you can’t do that and keep prices low so in this case we’ve had to raise prices,” says Fol-Epi owner Cliff Leir. “It’s a hard time for everybody right now and in order to stabilize our workforce we have to pay people better.”

Leir says it’s important to support the staff who make the business what it is.

“We have an amazing crew of people and everybody takes care of each other and keeps an eye on each other,” he says. “It means they are going to be in a better mental and emotional state when they are here.”

Some of the support from the federal and provincial governments for small businesses during the pandemic has been helpful but Leir says a lot of it has not come through for him.

“There is a number of things that have excluded us from either the loans or even wage subsidies,” says Leir. “Unfortunately we’ve fallen through a lot of cracks in this.”

Leir says the response from his customers on the first day has been positive. He said the fact that his business buys from local farms and is paying people better is something his clients believe in.

“If we can be surrounded by our family and eat well, that will carry us through whatever lies ahead,” he says.

The Local on Victoria’s Wharf Street has added a flat 18 per cent gratuity to every bill since reopening last week.