chadwicks toronto

Popular Toronto brunch spot runs into a city roadblock and asks people for help

A Toronto brunch spot has run into a roadblock and is asking people to help them out by signing a petition and writing letters of support to allow them to install an awning.

Chadwick's has had a tough time, like most restaurants, but owner Sarah Baxter was hoping her patio, a popular Annex hangout in normal times, might help her out when it gets warm enough, and patios are once again a legal option.

But Baxter says that rain, or even the threat of it, can kill a day's business, which makes an awning a practical necessity.

But when she applied for the necessary permit for a retractable awning, the city rejected her.

So Baxter asked the restaurant's Instagram followers, as well as regulars as they came in to pick up their takeout orders, to write letters of support. She also started a petition, and has collected about 115 signatures.

The problem stems from the fact that the building is zoned residential, so a minor variance is needed. 

When she received her rejection, her first step was to contact her councillor, Mike Layton, who contacted the zoning department on her behalf to understand the best path forward to get approval.

They're awaiting their reply and may have to go to the Committee of Adjustments, though Baxter is hopeful that won't happen as it's expensive and time-consuming.

In the meantime, Layton's office suggested getting letters of support from the neighbourhood.

"The response has been tremendous. No one, so far, has any issues with the awning," says Baxter. 

"The support from everyone has really lifted my spirits and given me the energy and hope I need to keep moving forward."

In pre-pandemic times, a rainy day simply meant people would move inside. But now, though they have ways of dealing with the cold, rain means a big loss of business.

"Over the winter I spent time researching ways to cover my back patio and protect guests from the rain," Baxter says. "I wanted to try to avoid the issues we had last season. Without rain protection, we lost almost all of our business on rainy days."

So if you want one more patio you can still head to when it gets drizzly once restaurants reopen for outdoor dining, you might want to consider signing the petition yourself.

Lead photo by

Jesse Milns

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