‘Wonderful to be putting food on plates’: Guelph patios packed on second day of Ontario reopening
GUELPH -- The patios of Downtown Guelph were full of customers for the second day of step one in Ontario’s reopening plan.
“It is so wonderful to see people again,” said Richard Overland of NV Kitchen and Bar on Saturday. “It’s so wonderful to be putting food on plates.”
This also marked the first weekend of the year that the downtown dining district was open to the public, which features closed streets and extended patios that almost didn’t get approved by city council.
Last year, the project that closes down sections of Wynham Street North and MacDonell was born in an effort to support struggling restaurants through the pandemic.
This year, council originally knocked down the idea, stating that the closed roads hurt other retailers and public transit routes.
In the end, weekend-only closures were approved.
“It was a little bit of a not-gonna-happen moment a few months ago, but council said that we would be able to do it on weekends, several weekends over the supper,” said Guelph mayor Cam Guthrie. “That’s a good compromise.”
Step one of Ontario’s reopening plan was originally scheduled to happen on June 14, so the early start day of this Friday caught a few restaurants off guard.
“We are renting tables right now until Tuesday, until our [ordered] tables come in,” said Jason MacFarlane, owner of Wimpy’s Diner. “It’s been a scramble, but it’s worth it and it’s a lot of fun.”
The Crazy Carrot is one restaurant that’s still in the process of building their patio.
“We should be ready in the next couple of days,” said owner Anurat Sood. “I am just waiting for some furniture to come and make it look beautiful.”
Lineups to get a spot on the patio Friday night existed until closing time.
On Saturday morning, some non-essential business like Roya Cat Records were feeling the same type of pressure, with customers lining up to get inside at 6 a.m., even though the store only opened at 10 a.m.