Restaurants workers in downtown St. John’s say they saw capacity crowds two summers in a row.
Restaurant and bar workers in downtown St. John’s reflected on two successful summers Friday as the deadline to close their outdoor patios approached.
The city’s parklet program mandated that outdoor patios be dismantled by Oct. 31.
Designed as a boon to local businesses who had lost indoor space to COVID-19 social distancing requirements, the parklet program waived permit and application fees for businesses intending to expand their outdoor space.
Establishments in the general downtown, between Temperance Street to the east and Leslie Street to the west, as well as in Churchill Square, were encouraged to apply.
Kyle Bonia, supervisor at Broderick’s on Water Street, says the added capacity the parklet program brought was welcome for the nine-table restaurant.
“We also had nine tables outside, so we doubled up our capacity,” he said.
It was the second year in a row Bonia noted a spike in patronage, he said.
“Phenomenal” foot traffic in 2020, the first year of the pedestrian mall, made the outdoor deck a huge hit.
“It was kind of like the Regatta out there every day,” he said. “Everyone wanted to eat outside.”
Bonia said the 11 p.m. curfew mandated by the parklet program was a source of struggle this year: It’s three hours earlier than last year’s 2 a.m. cut-off time.
“People would always want to stay outside, and you’d have to kick them off, or move them inside,” he said. “It was kind of a hassle that way.”
Still, Bonia said, he will be “100 per cent” sad to see the patio go come Sunday.
‘It was always full’
Caroline Kronin, manager of Celtic Hearth on Water Street, said the large patio outside that restaurant has been a huge hit two years in a row.
“It was always full,” she said. “They should have done it years ago.”
Looking out at the imposing structure of steel rods and fiery red tarp – the restaurant’s distinct accent colour – Kronin notes the patio’s retractable awning makes it one of few weather-proofed patios anywhere in the city.
It may have contributed to its wild popularity this summer: Kronin said demand was so high an extension had to be added.
Come spring, Kronin said she’d love to see the patio stick around “just a little bit longer.”
“Maybe not stay open later, but maybe open a little bit earlier,” she said, “that would be great.”