Winter patios? Edmonton eateries debating whether it’s worth the investment

EDMONTON — With the cold weather moving in, the owners of Edmonton restaurants and cafes must decide if it’s worth keeping their patios open over the winter.

An expedited program helped many local eateries open temporary sidewalk patios.

“Without having this temporary patio set up, it probably would have been a lot worse for us,” said Bob Yiannakoulias, owner of the Overflow Café.

The city eliminated licensing fees for these kind of patios in the spring, and sped up approvals.

“Basically approved the same day as long as the patio didn’t require the patio to move out into the road,” said Jeff Chase from the city.

The change led to a major increase in temporary patios. In 2019, 23 restaurants had them, but more than 100 businesses, including some retail stores, had them in 2020. Most of those businesses reported an increase in business.

“We fully recognize the need to support these businesses, particularly through winter,” Chase said.

“Our businesses are still trying to figure out what Edmontonians’ appetite is for winter patios, quite frankly,” said Cherie Klassen of the Old Strathcona Business Association.

Klassen says businesses will not be allowed to have patios that extend onto the road because of concerns about snow and ice clearing.

“Businesses have to determine whether a little bit of a patio is better than nothing.”

But even with the reduced space, and space being needed for heaters and windbreaks, Yiannakoulias said he’s in.

“One option is to sit and kind of try and make it through this, and one is to try and thrive,” he said.

It will be up to customers to decide if it’s an investment that pays off. 

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson

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