Businesses, patrons soak up Ottawa's extra-long patio season

Derek and Donna Lucas enjoy a pint on the warmest Nov. 5 in Ottawa's history.  (Rachelle Elsiufi /CBC News - image credit)
Derek and Donna Lucas enjoy a pint on the warmest Nov. 5 in Ottawa's history. (Rachelle Elsiufi /CBC News - image credit)

With record-breaking temperatures in Ottawa and COVID-19 trends still high, it's no surprise Ottawa's patios have been buzzing this weekend.

On Saturday afternoon, temperatures hit 23 C, making it the warmest Nov. 5 on record in the nation's capital.

Dressed in a t-shirt and shorts, Derek Lucas, decided to take advantage of the good weather with a pint on the Deacon Brodies Pub patio on Elgin Street.

"There's nothing better than being out on a patio, having a beer and hanging out with friends in, you know, shorts and a T-shirt in November," he told CBC.

"Right now we are really enjoying this positive energy."

The weekly average level of coronavirus in Ottawa's wastewater has been high but stable, and Ottawa's medical officer of health is urging people to wear masks in indoor and crowded areas.

So for those who wear masks indoors, an extended patio season might be welcoming news, Lucas said.

"It's great to be outside, where you don't necessarily need a mask if you don't want to."

Rachelle Elsiufi /CBC News
Rachelle Elsiufi /CBC News

Perfect weather to 'just hang out'

Lucas wasn't the only one thinking about hitting a patio Saturday afternoon. Simon Arbuthnot also decided to push his "winter chores" off until next week and enjoy a beer under the sun.

"I don't remember November weather like this ever," he said.

"We thought, the weather [is] so nice. Why don't we just get out and go and have a walk, sit out on the patio, have a drink and a bite to eat and just hang out?"

While frigid temperatures might still be weeks away, Arbuthnot is already hoping winter patios make a comeback this year.

They started popping up more frequently when Ottawa went into COVID-19 lockdown last winter, enabling businesses to stay open and also comply with now-lifted pandemic restrictions.

"Through COVID, we enjoyed coming here and wrapping up and putting on our ski gear and sitting out on the patio," Arbuthnot said.

"So perhaps we'll do the same again this year, I don't know!"

Rachelle Elsiufi/ CBC News
Rachelle Elsiufi/ CBC News

Good for business, too

The warm weather also led the City of Ottawa to extend permits for temporary patios on sidewalks and other right-of-ways until Nov. 13. They were supposed to end on Oct. 31.

"We have to thank Mayor Jim Watson for the efforts he made on our behalf," said Deacon Brodies co-owner Ken Goodhue.

"Not only did he waive the patio cost on city property, but this rebuilding of Elgin Street has made a huge difference."

Friday night was busy both inside the pub and on the patio, Goodhue said. He said couldn't remember the last time a November kicked off with such nice weather.

"And I'm 76, so I go back a long way," he said. "It's so unexpected [so] we should take advantage of it while it lasts."

Rachelle Elsiufi/ CBC News
Rachelle Elsiufi/ CBC News

Over at Beyond the Pale Brewing Company, co-owner Rob McIsaac said that October and November are typically harder months — and the unseasonable weather has proven good for business.

It's also helped the brewery keep going during some recent renovations, he added.

"We were doing some soundproofing on the ceiling last week, and so we were only open outside. And the weather co-operated," McIsaac said.

"So we ended up saving a decent amount of money."