CaféTO, a City of Toronto initiative to expand outdoor dining for Toronto restaurants, is officially here to stay. The decision was made by city council, according to a city press release on Nov. 10.
In addition the city will also be waiving permit fees in 2022.
Since implementation, CaféTO has supported more than 1,200 restaurants, whereas before the program about 500 Toronto restaurants held outdoor dining permits.
Chris Kamarlingos, owner of The Quarry Cafe, has had a patio at his restaurant for more than 30 years which has helped to expand the capacity of the small restaurant.
“We are a very small restaurant,” he said. “It gives us more capacity and the people who are vaccinated have somewhere to sit and enjoy eating outside.”
His patio helped his business operate after the lockdown when customers were allowed to eat outside.
“I believe the patio helps in a way, but at the same time it’s a costly way,” he said. “Now, especially since it’s cold, with the propane tanks you have to fill them … five to six tanks every day. The patio has cost me about $20,000 the last two years.”
Kamarlingos said people often call ahead of time to see if the Quarry patio is open and as people want to sit outside he’ll keep maintaining it, even throughout the coldest months.
Toronto patios had been approved to open during last years winter until April of 2021, but with the lockdown in January and the stay-at-home order restaurants weren’t allowed to host people outside of takeout.
Even in December, many restaurants throughout the city still have their patios open. Some restaurateurs have incorporated heat lamps and plastic tents to keep customers warm and protect them wind, rain and now snow.