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Alliston restaurants increase capacity with outdoor patios on Victoria Street

August 21, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Restaurant goers across Alliston are in luck.

More outdoor seating options have been made available through the Alliston Business Improvement Area’s (ABIA) Pilot Patio Program, which installed boardwalks in front of three eateries along Victoria Street.

“We recognized an opportunity about three years ago that would benefit the sustainability of our downtown restaurants and enhance the shopping experience for all of our retailers within our ABIA catchment area,” said Mike Jerry, ABIA Chair.

The downtown infrastructure currently doesn’t provide enough space for certain restaurants to open a patio along Victoria Street. In light of this, the ABIA searched for a company who could build the proper structure to be aesthetically pleasing and safe.

“I foresaw an opportunity to enhance the experience, not only for our locals but for tourists to appreciate the excellent restaurants we now have in Alliston,” said Jerry, who’s been working on the pilot project for several years.

“We began focusing on the restaurant portion of our catchment area about five years ago and given the quality of the restaurants that have come into town, we’ve really elevated our dining experience.”

While it wasn’t easy obtaining the proper licensing and approvals to push the initiative forward, Jerry said there’s “no time like the present” to get it going, especially during the pandemic.

“Our main focus right now is to promote a safe local shopping and dining experience,” he noted.

Retailers and restaurants have been devastated by the lockdowns caused by COVID-19, with a few local businesses closing their doors permanently and others still struggling to get by.

Overall revenues are down 50 per cent for ABIA retailers, who have actually been hit harder than restaurants during the pandemic.

“Staff have been laid off, hours have been shortened, financial assistance in some cases has been required,” said Jerry.

It cost roughly $10,000 to build the three patios, however these costs have been covered by the ABIA this year to determine if the pilot program is successful.

So far, the public has responded well to the patios that are now in place. People are having to reserve their seats early, which is a great sign for the business community, said Jerry.

He noted that its important the public’s support continues, as the ABIA is one of the primary revenue sources for the Town.

“Our ABIA catchment area as an aggregate, we’re the second largest taxpayer in New Tecumseth so the focus needs to be on the Town and on us to ensure the survivability of our retailers and our restauranteurs,” said Jerry

He told The Times it will be a long road to recovery from where the business community currently stands.

“It will take an anti-viral or a full out vaccine and if you’re optimistic like myself, that’s in 2021,” said Jerry.

With uncertainty remaining around COVID-19, the ABIA is calling on residents to try out the new, physically distanced patio spaces and support businesses downtown.

“What a great way to get outside, support local, shop and dine safe, and quite frankly, not have to do dishes,” Jerry noted.

Going forward, the ABIA is hopeful the program will be successful and is slated to return in 2021.

“It’s all about survivability, if we can have every restaurant that was in existence pre-COVID in existence post-COVID, that would be the home run,” said Jerry.

By Sam Odrowski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter



         


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