For the past year, patios have been popping up all over British Columbia.
But with indoor dining cancelled again last week, creating an outdoor dining space is the only way many restaurants will be able to survive COVID-19.
Something Jam Cafe’s owner, Jim Walmsley, knows only too well.
“Since Monday sales have probably dropped 90 per cent,” said Walmsley.
“This [patio] is our only saving grace for the rest of the summer.”
As a result of the indoor dining restrictions, Jam Cafe had to lay off 30 per cent of its staff, and install a pop-up patio, to try and stay afloat.
“It’s going to cost us upwards of $10,000 just to get this patio up and running, which is only a temporary means,” said Walmsley.
But the patios are only deemed ‘temporary’, for now.
Victoria’s mayor said late last year, she’d like to see the patios stay indefinitely.
“If this is one of the legacies covid has left in our city, these wonderful patios, then that’s a good legacy,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps on October 20th, 2020 to CHEK News.
Since the pandemic started, municipalities across the province have bent the rules for restaurants to extend outside, with varying
“At the height of the program last summer there were 103 approved permits,” said the city of Victoria in a statement.
“There are 47 active permits of all types as of today. We have 16 applications under review, and in pre-application talks with another three.”
There’s even a new website devoted to mapping the patios available across the island.
And while it may seem easy work putting in a patio, it’s actually pretty pricey.
“The cost of materials, wood, everything has gone up substantially,” said Andrew Diba, co-owner of Bubby Rose’s Bakery & Cafe.
“I could have probably had this built last summer for half the price,” said Walmsley.
Then there’s the add ons: plants, plexiglass, tents, and of course the heavily sought-after heaters.
“Last year we saw about a 60 per cent increase in inquiries and sales for outdoor heaters,” said Samantha Pickering, owner of Vancouver Gas Fireplaces, which distributes heaters and fireplaces all over the province.
“After that, supply dwindled right back, to about a three to six month backorder period.”
Fast forward to 2021 the same supply backlog remains, as production companies of all kinds face also a steel shortage, according to industry experts.