Toronto patios at restaurants and bars are seeking ways to keep guests warm this winter, though some onlookers aren’t sure that covered, fully enclosed winterized areas are a safe idea.
Restaurants and bars such as Regulars, Casa La Palma, Mantra and Giovanni’s are just some that have recently erected tent-like enclosures on their patios that are meant to protect guests from the elements, but what about protecting them from each other?
When Casa La Palma posted a photo of their enclosed rooftop patio to Instagram, commenters questioned, “Does this defeat this purpose of being on a patio?”
Another wrote, “Being in a closed tent doesn’t seem any different than dining in the restaurant. To keep the heat in the tents they will always be closed up with stale dead air. How will fresh air be circulated??” La Palma replied that “we can open up the sides.”
Another commenter wrote, “Ontario assumed restaurant owners would be responsible, owners assumed Ontario would be responsible. And here we are, building dining rooms on roofs and pretending we ain’t.”
“Just trying to make the best out of our space,” the restaurant replied.
“The tent is ventilated with two walls open as is required by public health, so no air lingers in the tent,” says Ashish Sethi, Chef Owner of Mantra, a family-run Indian restaurant in Don Mills which has set up a tent “fully decorated like a traditional Indian wedding.”
“We teamed up with industry professionals, Premier Event Tent
and Diya Decor, to ensure the tent was fire proof and suitable to stay in place.”
Sethi also notes that all tables are six feet apart, menus are by QR code, all staff is temperature checked daily, all guests have their contact information taken, groups of six are the max per table, every table has their own heater plus additional heaters are available, and blankets are available for purchase for $5 and you can take them home with you.
According to CafeTO’s tent/structure guidelines, “Toronto Public Health Guidelines indicate that a roof, canopy, tent, awning is permitted for outdoor dining but at least two full sides of the outdoor dining area must be open to the outdoors and must not be substantially blocked in any way.”
The guidelines continue, “Do not operate a fueled heating appliance in any enclosed or partially enclosed area.”
You’re also not allowed to put a tent or structure in a curb lane. Toronto Public Health Media Relations advises, “Residents who observe enclosed structures – intended as dining space – should contact 311 and request an officer investigate.”