bar volo

Toronto bar successfully appeals patio denial

In a rare win for local small business owners, it looks like a patio is coming to Bar Volo's alley, after all — but it might not be included in the CaféTO program.

On June 13, the Toronto staple revealed via Twitter that their patio application—for which costs have skyrocketed—had been denied by the city.

That tweet racked up over 400 thousand views and initiated an uproar in response from their customers and local politicians alike, all calling for the city to reconsider.

They promptly appealed, and on June 22, mayoral candidate and current city councillor Brad Bradford announced that Bar Volo’s appeal had successfully gone through.

Ralph Morana, who opened Bar Volo on Yonge Street in the 1980s and runs the new location with his two sons, says that the city didn't provide any reasoning as to why they denied the initial patio application—but, upon inquiry, told them that their patio got denied because it lands on a laneway, which isn't included in the program this year.

He went on to explain that the new guidelines also require a larger amount of space—six metres—between the patio and the opposite curb than they had in previous years.

His bar isn't the only one whose patio application got denied this year, and Morana says that he feels bad for other small business owners fighting a CaféTO denial.

He believes that not having an outdoor space during the summer would decrease business to the tune of what he estimates to be 20 to 30 per cent.

"The last few years, during the evenings, 80 per cent of our customers were sitting outside," Morana told blogTO. "If we don't have a patio, people are going to find another one, and we’re going to lose revenue."

He continued, saying that although he's glad the patio eventually got approved, they still lost months of preparation waiting to hear back about their initial application and another two weeks waiting for a response on their appeal, which cost them the time they needed to hire extra staff and wrangle up their patio furniture from its warehouse hibernation.

Morana says that the appeal ultimately rested on the shoulders of an inspector from the fire department, but that Ward 13 city councillor Chris Moise helped orchestrate the new plan.

"Now, we're going to end up getting a bigger patio than [before], but it might not be under the CaféTO program," he said, with concern that it could cause him issues moving forward.

"I'm not sure how that's going to affect us next year. We're working together with our councillor and the City of Toronto to try to make it part of the program."

Although it doesn't seem like they're out of the woods just yet, Toronto residents can be glad that Bar Volo's fan-favourite patio will return and provide hope that their success in the appeal process will trickle down to other local establishments like West Queen West's Le Swan and fellow brewery Laylow, who started a GoFundMe to cover costs imposed by CaféTO.

Lead photo by

Bar Volo

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