WINNIPEG -- The West End Biz is celebrating all the new businesses that opened their doors last year despite the COVID-19 pandemic by launching “New Business Week,” to encourage everyone to visit the new establishments.

As part of the campaign, people can receive prizes for visiting multiple new businesses, or be entered into a draw for simply visiting any business in the area.

Sixty new businesses made the plunge and opened their doors last year, according to the Biz, with most starting the process long before anyone knew anything about the pandemic.

Habesha Restaurant is one of those new businesses. Owner Mimi Tesema said she expected her first year to be a challenge, but not in the way it ended up being.

“For us, it was go-go-go while we were planning our restaurant, but by the time we had opened our doors, customers weren’t allowed to visit in any of the ways we had planned for,” said Tesema.

West End Biz said decals will be placed around the neighbourhood promoting the new restaurants, grocery and retail stores. The businesses will also be featured on the Biz’s website.

“No one was expecting last year to be what it what was, especially those who had poured their heart and soul into launching a new enterprise,” said Joe Kornelsen, executive director of the West End Biz, in a release.

“Businesses that haven’t had the time to establish themselves and connect with customers are among those experiencing the greatest hardship.”