Patio program extended: Kitchener restaurants don’t ring the bell

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The City of Kitchener has extended its patio program until at least January 1, 2021.The city hopes this will help local businesses serve more customers during the winter months, which will help them stay alive.

It remains to be seen whether these businesses will benefit from the program, particularly in the city center near City Hall.

Zeljko Loncar, affectionately known as “Zee”, owns 271West, and has noted that the cold affects more than the customer, even with patio heaters.

“The history of patio heaters is very simple. Everyone says you can’t find them anywhere. You can’t buy them, you can’t buy them. Another aspect of this story is that while it works, we have to put our employees in and out. Temperatures between zero and 10 degrees are fine, but if it’s close to zero I don’t think it’s fair for the employees. ”

There is more than the cold to face when winter arrives, as Canadians know. The snow on the city streets eventually turns to slush, dirt and grime; something Bruno Bolsinelli cites as a reason for not having sidewalk terraces during the winter in the city center.

“Our terrace is on the sidewalk,” said Bolsinelli, owner of pizzeria La Cucina. “When the snow turns to melting snow, the cars go by, they splash everything inside the patio because it’s right next to the street. It doesn’t work too much for Kitchener. For my place, and I don’t know about the others, but for my place, it’s not worth it. ”

You also shouldn’t expect a patio to appear at Two Goblets, whose owner cited cold weather as a reason guests wouldn’t use a patio, even with heaters in place.

Ellison’s Bistro is on the fence about the idea, it seems, as most of their business is take-out.

“It’s a consideration,” said Elvis Ellison, who also added his support for the patio program that will continue next summer.

If the appetite for winter terraces seems slim, there are a few exceptions.

The Crazy Canuck, for example, has a courtyard where patrons can dine in downtown Kitchener.

“I was just at the BIA meeting yesterday,” said owner Liam Cameron. “There are discussions about how to get there. We look at what block 3 [Brewing] did with the domes, and see if we can replicate that. Nothing confirmed, but the interest is there. I was on the phone with Linda Yutzi and she said, “If we could get these domes, would you use them?” And we said ‘of course we’ll do what we can with them.’ ”

Cameron explained that his outdoor dining area was constantly blowing in the wind, which would create a cold dining setting during the winter months.

He hopes the plastic domes will not only help with physical distance, but will protect customers from the elements.

“I don’t see patio heaters as being as beneficial as domes,” Cameron said.

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