Patio program helps businesses stay afloat

·2 min read

Richmond’s temporary patio program—recently extended for another year—has been a big success for the businesses that implemented it.

“(It) was a tremendous help during a very tough time,” says Sachi, manager of Shady Island Bar & Grill in Steveston, who asked that her surname not be used.

The temporary patio program was initially introduced by the city in May in response to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Shady Island opened its space in June, and it proved to be the restaurant’s most popular area over the summer. Sachi adds the city was helpful if any questions arose, and staff “definitely was trying to assist struggling businesses the best they could.”

Shady Island installed heaters last winter, but due to the restaurant’s location it is unable to add coverings or more heaters, so usage will be weather permitting over the winter months.

“We (also) have some fantastic regulars who have helped us stay afloat—they are truly appreciated,” says Sachi.

The staff at Lulu Island Winery in east Richmond are similarly enthused.

“The outdoor patio program is an excellent project, especially for us to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic,” says chief operating officer Leo Liu. “(We) hope that this project can be extended post-pandemic.”

Liu says customers enjoyed the sunshine and fresh air during the summer. The winery is now renovating its outdoor space to improve its use next summer.

“The patio will be the perfect place for our guests to do wine tastings and mingle,” says Liu. “We have noticed that local community members have come to the winery regularly for wine tastings and tours, especially during the summer. We really appreciate the help and support.”

City spokesperson Katie Ferland said of 11 patios in place now, only three want to ‘winterize’ their spaces. The city is currently working with those businesses, and also plans to ramp up communication and marketing of the program in the spring for additional businesses that might want to make use of it.

Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel