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Rain washing out start of post-pandemic patio season for restaurants, bars

Last Updated Jul 3, 2020 at 4:04 pm PDT

FILE - Wet summer weather is putting a damper on local restaurants and bars hoping to recover revenue lost during the pandemic by opening up patios. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Summary

Restaurants, bars relying on extra seats outside to rebound from COVID-19

Physical distancing and other health and safety rules are keeping indoor spaces at half capacity or less: BCRFSA

Some bars and restaurants have canopies and heaters, but even then patrons stay inside when it rains, association says

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Wet summer weather is putting a damper on local restaurants and bars hoping to recover revenue lost during the pandemic by opening up patios.

BC Restaurant and Food Services Association president Ian Tostenson said with physical distancing and other health and safety rules keeping indoor spaces at half capacity or less, establishments are relying on extra seats outside.

“If we get good weather, and we get good weather for a couple of months, it should be enough to see a majority of restaurants in B.C. put some cash away for the fall,” Tostenson said.
“But, right now, boy, I tell you, this is miserable, to say the least.”

But with many only installing patios this year — some being only the pop-up variety — they don’t have the infrastructure to keep them going when it rains, as it has for much of the past week.

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“Having the patios closed because of rain is not good at all for us,” he said.

Some are able to utilize canopies and heaters, but those are expensive, Tostenson said.

“Proper umbrellas, then if you were to put in heaters, it gets really expensive. And you have to ask yourself, “For what, two months? For maybe six weeks?”

He added even places with robust patio setups tend not to fill them up if it’s wet out.

“If your patio is big enough, you could probably earn back, maybe another 10 or 20 seats, so now you’re closer to 75 per cent capacity, that’s what makes a difference,” he said.

“But people typically don’t even want to sit outside under an umbrella when it’s raining. It’s just miserable.”

On the bright side, he added, establishments with an indoor focus probably had a pretty good Canada Day, despite the rain.

The weekend forecast calls for sunshine on Saturday, according to Environment Canada.

The City of Vancouver has issued 182 temporary patio permits since launching an expedited program on June 1 as part of an efforts to support businesses recovery efforts.