If you have been through downtown Sudbury lately, you will be fully aware of changes in the streetscape. The sound of hammers, the buzz of saws, the fragrance of fresh construction, all are part of the anticipation of reopening.
Of course, indoor dining may be some time away yet, but restaurateurs are banking on a summer where outdoor venues are part of the new normal. They are readying for a zig if there is a zag.
Drive along Durham and the lane nearest Respect is Burning Supper Club is many hundreds of square feet of timber flooring. Railings surely are only days or a week away from installation. All of the patio furniture placement must be en route or waiting in the wings.
Tiffany Sutton Taylor at Respect could not yet project how many seats and tables will grace their planks.
“I think people are very excited about this. I know we are,” she shared.
More patios are popping up in the core.
Kyle Marcus, managing director at Downtown Sudbury, says it is part of a cohesive plan to enrich the downtown experience.
“Yes, we’ve launched a patio program. It is for hospitality but even retail can benefit. It has been a tough time. This will stimulate and encourage downtown establishments, and bring people here.
"There are four new patios going up this week, none of which were here in 2020. Plus, some from last year will return, and others will expand.”
No one is sure what protocols will be for June 2. COVID is still a wildcard in any planning.
Patios may be an inflection point for downtown. Marcus is adamant that “it’s going to be something we have never seen before. It will complement downtown in a way that has never been done.
"People will really start to see change … really start to see progress.”
He said he feels downtown will be friendlier to pedestrians and to cyclists, too. It will be a warmer welcome to spending time downtown.
“It will make downtown really pop!” he says.
Marcus is new to his role at ‘Downtown Sudbury’ Sudbury’s Business Improvement Area (BIA), but is not unaware of the character, history, and importance of Sudbury’s downtown.
He, too, is a downtown business owner.
“There is a consistent feel and look to the patios. We helped with procurement and will assist with storage at the end of the season. The City (of Greater Sudbury) is absolutely in approval and agreement with plans. We are working hand-in-hand on this initiative. They got it up and running last year. We are thankful for their input and guidance.
"We meet once a week to stay on the same page, and love working collaboratively with the city.”
Marcus says seeing the faces of downtown merchants who know that help is here, that there is something new and fun on the horizon, is worth the work.
“Patios will be delicious icing. We need social interaction and community in our lives. We need A little bit of wine and whisky. We need to be together and I think that’s what these patios and a new downtown experience will do. They will bring our community together.”
The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government.
Hugh Kruzel , Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star