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Toronto restaurants upset about being forced to remove patios as warm weather hits

Despite the perfect patio weather Toronto is experiencing, some restaurants across the city have been forced to close their curb lane patios for snow removal — and (understandably), it's not going over so well. 

Last month, Mayor John Tory announced that patios in curb lanes would need to come down in November to make way for snowplows. 

Since this was before restrictions recently lifted allowing Toronto to return to modified indoor dining on Nov. 14th, many restaurants began adapting to losing their patio by using their space in a new way or offering takeout specials.

However, the weather in Toronto this week - and heading into the weekend - is pretty much perfect for kicking back on a patio, leaving many restaurants upset that they had to remove their curb lane patios. 

A 'wasted opportunity'

The Alpine in the Junction closed their curb lane patio earlier this week, and told blogTO things have been chaotic since.

This type of patio was supposed to remain until mid-November, but some were forced to come down sooner to get ready for snow clearing.

"A week of nice weather, especially when there's no indoor service, that could mean rent for a lot of restaurants and instead, a lot of people are seeing it as a wasted opportunity," floor manager Danny Pagett said.

"We want to do our part and keep everyone safe but at the same time, if we want to stay open we need to make money."

While Pagett said that The Alpine is lucky enough to also have a heated back patio, which is allowed to stay open, he said that other businesses in the area are not in the same position.

"After a month of not being able to be open inside, businesses are taking huge hits."

'Life-saving money'

This includes The Indie Alehouse, also in the Junction, who closed their curb lane patio on the same day.

Owner Jason Fisher told blogTO that having the patio for the rest of the week would mean a difference of more than $10,000. 

"On a good year, that's still important money but in the middle of a pandemic where we've been up and down, in and out, closed and not closed, half capacity, that's life-saving money," Fisher said. 

"How often is it 17 degrees on a weekend in November? That we should have been able to take advantage of."

This loss is something Shamez Amlani, owner of La Palette and Drom Taberna on Queen West, understands. Amlani lost two curb lane patios this week.

At La Palette, Amlani said that there are now only two tables on the sidewalk, meaning their outdoor capacity has decreased by about 75 per cent without the curb lane patio. 

While he said that Drom Taberna has a back patio, the outdoor capacity has decreased by about 50 per cent without tables on the curb lane.

"As a result of that, we're going to lose thousands of dollars in revenue, our staff will lose hours and tips so that will result in thousands of dollars as well," he said in an interview with blogTO.

"We've had to become extremely flexible and creative with what we do to keep our fragile businesses afloat."

Amlani is also thinking of his clients. 

"People want to be outside. As Canadians, we have to live in the cold and dark and grey for so long." 

In protest, Amlani has stepped down from his volunteer position as chair of the Queen Street West BIA

"It's very sad that we didn't get any sympathy from the various departments of the city."

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

Either way, there's definitely no snow to clear this weekend.

Lead photo by

The Alpine

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