Heated patios at Toronto restaurants transforming into almost fully enclosed spaces
Patios are now the only spaces where you can dine at Toronto restaurants, and considering temperatures are plunging to almost -20 C, many businesses are almost fully enclosing their outdoor areas.
It's yet another confusing element in the yo-yo-ing restrictions placed on restaurants: people can't dine inside, but they practically need to be inside in order to dine in comfort at all.
Fox on John reopened their winterized patio on Jan. 5.
"We have built our enclosed patio to create the ultimate experience in comfort for our patrons while ensuring that we follow all of the guidelines provided by Toronto Public Health," Syed Sohail from the Fox on John marketing team tells blogTO.
The fully enclosed patio is required to have openings, so they've warmed it up by putting a heater at every table, adding warm cocktails to the menu, and offering sanitized blankets.
They're also tempting people in with a gimmick capping menu items at $20.22 for the month of January.
Baro is opening their fourth floor rooftop patio on Jan. 12 for dinner service Wednesday through Sunday and brunch on weekends.
"Our rooftop patio was actually originally built to be all-season, so it hasn't been modified for [lockdown restrictions], but that being said we are very grateful for its design during these times," Rachel Glaser, marketing manager for Honeycomb Hospitality (which oversees Baro,) tells blogTO.
Baro's patio has a retractable ceiling, retractable glass walls, heaters and booth seating.
"Since we have the luxury of the customizable walls and ceiling, we will be ensuring there is enough airflow to keep the space open and safe while still staying warm," says Glaser.
While trying to maximize the limited outdoor space as much as possible, Baro will be taking limited reservations as well as walk-ins with seating time limits.
Meanwhile, the patio at ritzy steakhouse Harbour Sixty has so many indoor-like elements it practically feelings like another dining room, while the patio at Prohibition Social House is fully enclosed on two sides, and wine bar Piquette has introduced an enclosed solarium.
"The government guidelines state that we have to have at least two walls open, so ours is not technically 'fully enclosed'," Afron Miftari, operations manager for Aidan Hospitality (the parent hospitality group that owns Prohibition,) tells blogTO.
"That being said, we've done our best to create a warm, welcoming environment for our guests."
Prohibition's covering is waterproof, there are blankets at every table, and they've added multiple heaters and a hot drinks menu.
"It was not cheap, but we think it was worth it as we wanted to keep as much of our FOH [front of house] staff working as possible," says Miftari.
Hemingway's in Yorkville has always been known for their heated and covered year-round outdoor rooftop patio, but even they have added additional heating and have opened a new outdoor patio extension on the rooftop.
"We've kept the north side relatively open above the glass windows to ensure ventilation, which can make it challenging on a real cold day," Hemingway's co-owner Daimin Bodnar tells blogTO. "But people are coming prepared with coats and toques and the right mindset."
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