“Calgarians love a patio, right?” said Annie Macinnis, Executive Director of the Kensington Business Improvement Area.
Patios in Calgary have become a key part of the city’s summer since 2020 to keep restaurants open while keeping people safe. But as the season comes to an end, how much demand is there for the outside dining experience?
“Prior to COVID, there was about five patio extensions and then during 2021, we got up to about 220. And now it’s actually back down to about 90,” said Andrew Sedor, mobility initiatives lead at the City of Calgary.
Sedor estimates that number went down because indoor dining capacity limits aren’t around anymore, as some people did it out of necessity, while others say they want to keep it around.
“I absolutely love it. I’ve never been to Europe, but everyone who has, says it’s more of a European style, and with our neighbours jumping on it too, it’s kinda new, we’re calling it the Kensington boardwalk,” said Mike Shupeni, owner of Side Street Pub and Grill.
Shupeni says they’ve been a hit with his customers and has heard that his customers would continue their love for patios into the colder months. “A lot of them want to keep it through the winter,” he said.
He isn’t the only Kensington businessperson who gives patios two-thumbs-up.
“It has offered such whimsy and beauty in Kensington, the painted jersey barricades that BUMP did are so wonderful and so bright, they’re like flower bouquets everywhere you look,” said Macinnis.
She adds businesses have jumped at the opportunity to get more traffic.
“I literally had businesses talking to me right after Christmas saying ‘when, when, when can we put up patios,’” Macinnis said.
The City continues to make safety improvements to the patios as they are still a new feature, such as adding bright barricades.
“Looking at next year, we’re looking at adding even more protection. Just provide that extra layer of safety. We’re also working with the University of Calgary. They have some students out of the school of architecture and planning that are looking to design some barrier for our patios,” Sedor told CityNews.