Warm March weather prompts open patios, hope for stronger sales at restaurants

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The warm weather has several restaurants opening their patios, and as Connor O'Donovan reports, owners say full-time outdoor dining can't come soon enough – Mar 20, 2021

It looked more like summer than the dying days of winter Friday at several Saskatchewan residents as patio doors swung open.

“People love the patio. We have a good location where the sun comes in earlier in the day, so our days are usually full,” said Canadian Brewhouse Grasslands Assistant General Manager Krista Sandercock.

“People are just itching to get outside right now and this is a way to get outside, have some drinks, have some food and actually feel like they’ve done something.”

Sandercock said that after winterizing their Regina patio earlier this year, it has been open to host patrons whenever the temperature rises above five below.

She said that while it only fits five tables under current health order restriction, it has been good for business.

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“There’s only five tables out here so we can’t get a tonne out of it but every little bit helps when we can seat an extra table two or three times a day.”

Current health order restrictions mandate at least 2 metres between tables if a barrier is present and 3 metres if not.

Table capacity is capped at 4 people.

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The warm weather prompted similar thoughts in Saskatoon.

Taste Hospitality Group Co-owner Carmen Hamm made the last-minute decision to open two of her restaurant’s patios ahead of the weekend.

“The patios have been open since yesterday. We’ll have them open through the weekend as long as the weather holds,” said Hamm, whose restaurants Cohen’s Beer Republic and UNA Pizza and Wine both have patio space.

“It’s a big deal for us, not only to add seating, but people feel a lot more comfortable outside now even with vaccines rolling out, so being able to have people feel at ease is so big to be able to have that appeal for people.”

Hamm said that while the warm weather may not last, she’s hoping this weekend’s Nuit Blanche festival can bring people out into the city and onto her patio.

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“Our hope is that between that, us and other restaurants people will be out and about.”

The City of Saskatoon has also seen an uptick in applications for parking patio and sidewalk cafe licenses, for which fees have temporarily been waived.

They say there were 8 parking patios licensed in 2020, and 11 sidewalk cafes. They say that this year an estimated 12 sidewalk cafe and 11 parking patio licenses have been granted.

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Restaurants Canada Western Vice President Mark von Schellwitz says a surge in sales over the summer months in 2020 was partly thanks to patio access.

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He said staffing levels also increased over the summer, and hopes restaurants see the same this year.

“We’re looking forward to a time where we can hopefully get some of these restrictions removed and also once again offer that patio seating which really was a lifeline to the industry last year.” he said.


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