Restaurants hoping customers keep coming in as weather cools
KITCHENER -- Restaurants in Waterloo Region have had a tough year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
They had to adjust their model to allow for more outdoor seating and now they're hoping customers will continue to come and eat as temperatures cool.
Patrons on the region's patios are sporting sweaters instead t-shirts these days.
"We brought a blanket tonight so we could sit out," customer Amanda Weber said.
It's been a tough financial year for many restaurants, but patio season was a silver lining.
"We've already seen a bit of a shift as the weather has changed," said Matt Rolleman with Thirteen Food & Beverage. "In the last few days, week or so, people are not as eager to be outside."
All three cities in Waterloo Region passed bylaws to extend patios onto roads and sidewalks to increase outdoor dining space and restaurant revenue.
Morty's Pub in Waterloo hasn't opened for indoor dining yet. The restaurant did build a big patio this year to allow for physical distancing and they want to keep it open for as long as possible.
They've set up heaters to help keep people warm.
"During these times, we'd really like if we could give everyone blankets, but unfortunately that's not going to happen," co-owner Steven Campbell said.
Autumn patio season comes with questions at Thirteen Food & Beverage.
"Just not 100 per cent sure what we're going to do around that, because this is on the city's sidewalk," Rolleman said. "I am not sure at this point, in the future what we could do with those heaters, so we're not sure if we're going to invest in those yet or not."
Cambridge's sidewalk patio permits are good until the end of October. Belmont Village is also going to allow extended patios to remain in place until Oct. 31.
Most Kitchener and Waterloo extensions are valid until January, weather permitting.
"We're hoping that people get comfortable coming inside," Rolleman said. "We are practicing our social distancing and trying to follow all the rules that we can, put in place by the Ontario government."
The restaurant owners are hopeful that an extended patio season will help them bounce back.
"We'll keep it open as long as we can, until the snow is flying," Campbell said.