Restaurants taking on the cold in hopes of recouping some pandemic losses

·2 min read
Beyond the Pale Brewing Company has added a tent and heater to its patio this winter. (Supplied by Rob McIsaac  - image credit)
Beyond the Pale Brewing Company has added a tent and heater to its patio this winter. (Supplied by Rob McIsaac - image credit)

Despite the cold weather sticking around for another weekend in Ottawa, some restaurants aren't waiting for warmer days to welcome back customers to their patios.

The pandemic has had a significant effect on the hospitality industry, with restaurants and bars being forced to halt indoor and outdoor seating multiple times over the past year. As Ottawa is currently in the orange zone restaurants can only welcome 50 patrons at a time, and a maximum of four people per table. Restaurants must also close by 10 p.m.

"Every business right now is looking for different ways to kind of bring in customers and, I guess, make up for kind of like the limitations that we have right now," said Jason Sawision, owner and chef of Stofa restaurant.

Sawision reopened Friday after the latest lockdown, but because of current restrictions can only serve about half the restaurant's normal capacity inside.

Stofa restaurant has a bigger patio in the summer, but decided to offer a more intimate experience outside after the latest lockdown.
Stofa restaurant has a bigger patio in the summer, but decided to offer a more intimate experience outside after the latest lockdown.(Stofa Restaurant/Facebook)

So in an effort to bring in more customers, he decided to offer a special experience for patrons on the patio. A party of four can rent out the space, which comes with Muskoka chairs, a fire pit, heaters, and a special menu.

"There's a couple of restaurants in town doing kind of outdoor patios and, you know, ours isn't huge, but we figured we could do kind of like a more intimate, private experience," he said.

"[We] thought it might be something also that people were looking for, where you're definitely outside and then you're not around a whole bunch of people."

Recouping revenue

At Beyond the Pale Brewing Company, a tent and heater have been added to their outdoor patio in the hopes of offering space for more customers, and making up some of the money lost during the pandemic.

"We lose almost half our revenue when we have to shut down our taproom and, you know, also are unable to sell beer to other bars and restaurants who had to shut down," said co-founder Rob McIsaac.

He's still trying to see the silver lining in the situation.

"It's certainly been an opportunity for us to try something new in terms of the outdoor seating."

McIsaac hopes to continue to cash in on that creativity. He's working with the city to keep the tent up even as the weather improves in the coming months.

"We're looking forward to some nice temperatures to hopefully get some people outside."