outdoor patios toronto

Hundreds of restaurants and bars are starting to close their outdoor patios in Toronto

Restaurants across the city are getting creative in order to stay in business once they lose their curb lane patio.

Earlier this month, Mayor John Tory confirmed that patios in curb lanes will need to come down to make way for snow plows.

"As much as we would love to leave the patios in the curb lane, all of those patios will come out," Tory said in a press conference on Oct. 20.

"The ones on the curb lanes are coming out starting this week, and there's a very simple reason for that… we have to plow the roads when it starts to snow. "

Other outdoor patios are allowed to remain open as CafeTO was recently extended until next year. 

Now, restaurants and bars who have to shut down their curbside patios are looking ahead to see what they can do to stay profitable during everyone's least-favourite season.

While this, of course, includes takeout for many, others are using their space in a new way. 

For Abra Shiner, owner of the Swan Dive bar on Dundas West, losing the patio means adaptation. 

"It's been a lot of exercise," Shiner said in an interview with blogTO, adding that in lieu of having a patio, she will be opening a flea market inside. 

"I have so much space inside that I'm able to use and I have all those tables outside that are able to come back inside and because we're a big enough space, I can make everything six-feet apart."

Shiner also said that she hopes this can help her bar stay alive while also helping some local artists find a new venue considering they too have lost so many. 

The flea market at the Swan Dive bar will most likely open on Nov. 15, Shiner said, and will run until at least Christmas.

Lloyd's, located on Queen Street East in Leslieville, on the other hand, will be selling custom, limited-edition merchandise, including sweatshirts once their curb lane patio closes on Nov. 8. 

"We did t-shirts during the first lockdown and we're going to do hoodies this time because it's a bit more seasonal," owner Ryan Lucier said. 

Besides this, Lucier added that the bar will also be offering cocktail kits for delivery or pickup which include everything you'd need to create a specific kind of cocktail. The kits have enough ingredients to make six cocktails and cost $40.

"The cocktail kits alleviate some of the issues and can help us pay a couple bills but is nowhere near what we need to survive," Lucier said. 

As a result, the bar is currently in the process of petitioning for a temporary backyard patio. Their petition has approxiamtely 500 signatures from community supporters. 

"We talked to a lot of people and they're not looking forward to the sun going down at 5 p.m. and not having anywhere to go have a drink or eat food," Lucier said. 

While Lucier said that they've sent the petition to Paula Fletcher, the city councillor for the area, they still need the support of people who live within the immediate vicinity of the bar. 

"We applied for a patio in the summer, but we were denied one based on our proximity to a residential property line."

Eastbound Brewing Company, located on Queen Street East in Riverside, is similarly loosing their curb lane patio on Nov. 8 and will instead be selling themed food boxes. 

"In the past, we've done boxes for Father's Day and Mother's Day," Chef Tara Lee told blogTO. 

"Moving forward, we'll probably do snack boxes or treat yourself boxes or entertaining ones especially moving in to the holiday season and while we know that you can't have big groups, we're going to do ones that have some nachos and queso and marinated olives and crackers and those kind of snack-y items."

Lee explained that the company has been able to sell their beer out the front door since they've opened but are implementing these boxes - which will be available for delivery starting next week - to build on that.

"Losing the patio reduces capacity and foot traffic outside our restaurant because most people won't be outside as much, especially with the cold weather coming and I don't blame them," Lee said.

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With Toronto in a modified Stage 2 of the province's reopening plan, indoor dining is not currently allowed which means outdoor dining is pivotal for restaurants and bars. However, Mother Nature can't be beat.

"We have a responsibility to keep the roads clear and obviously, if there is a patio in the curb lane, it is not going to be possible for us to clear the roads properly,"  the mayor said.

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim

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