How snow in Calgary spells the end of patio season, reality check for restaurants

CALGARY —
Physical distancing is a familiar public health requirement that encouraged Calgary restaurants to utilize and even expand outdoor patios, but the arrival of colder weather has some eateries shifting focus to indoor dining.

“I know open air is nice but there is something to be said coming into a nice room and having a nice meal and drink,” said Matthew Stewart, general manager of Freehouse in Calgary’s Kensington neighbourhood.

The location has a rooftop patio and ground-level patio by the sidewalk, which Stewart says is likely done for the season.

Owners of Trolley 5 along 17th Avenue it may have another shot at opening up its upper level space

“As soon as it hits that plus 10 again or chinook we are able to open up our patio and fills, but the patio extensions are obviously done,” said owner Ernie Tsu.

Both locations agree local restaurants were hard hit after shutting down in the spring and want patrons to feel confident in safety protocols.

“It’s safer to get a small group of friends and head to a restaurant than have 20-30 people lumped inside a condo,” said Tsu.

The removal of capacity limits has provided some relief.

According to the Alberta government website, “There is no cap on capacity for restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars, as long as there is a 2 metre distance or appropriate barriers between dining parties.”

There are still restrictions to indoor gatherings up to 50 people for private events, such as a wedding reception.

Tsu says he is keeping an eye on regions like British Columbia and Ontario but is confident that Calgarians will avoid curfews or closures so long as the public supports restaurants and follows public health guidelines.

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