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Stouffville Main Street gets ready for patio season with new temporary structures

The patios will be in place on Main Street until November

Simon Martin
June 14, 2021

You might have noticed a little change to Main Street in Stouffville. Summer patio bump-outs have been added in front of several local restaurants as everyone awaits the reopening of outdoor dining.

Oliver Belo, owner of Main Street Bakehouse, is itching for the change to open the space outside his place for customers. He’s feeling the pinch, like most restaurant owners during the lockdown. “We have a taken a huge hit,” he said. “We are looking forward to it. It just brings a good vibe to our Main Street.”

Last year, Belo said, the setup was a little makeshift, but it was the best that could have been hoped for considering the time restriction. “It was great for the season,” he said.

This year, the patio implemented by the town is much more aesthetically pleasing. “It looks great, in my opinion.”

Belo expects to have room for close to 30 people outside at the Bakehouse during patio season. He hopes to continue with things like live music this year that help bring the community together.

Tulsi Food Experience owner Aravin Appappillai is looking forward to being able to have customers eat at the restaurant again. “It’s great. It’s bringing actual people, which is better than takeout,” he said. He hopes there is not another shutdown and said he can seat about 12 people on his patio.

Ward 5 Coun. Richard Bartley said it was a no-brainer for the town to move forward with the patio program. He said restaurants are struggling to survive and that council has to do everything they can to help them make it through the pandemic.

The patio program was a big success last year, Ward 6 Coun. Sue Sherban said, bringing a lot more foot traffic on the Main Street. While there was some concerns about people losing parking spots, the system worked out well. “I received nothing but positive feedback,” she said. “It looked ugly, but it worked well.”

Stouffville economic development officer David Tuley said that this year, the town had more time to come up a solution for the patio. “We did the best we could with the patio program last year,” he said. “Restaurants said it was going to help save them. It was so well received last year. The patios were packed. We all need this. I feel sorry for these restaurants. We are going to need this going forward.”

The town found a company that specializes in removing the temporary patios. Tuley said the diversions are much nicer this year because they are at grade with the sidewalk.

“The program is all about providing the have-nots with something to have,” he said.

Town council chose to support the program with COVID-19 relief funds.

Tuley said every setup is unique. For instance, at the Smokery, the patio is closer to the road due to an angled sidewalk, whereas at another location, the patio occupies the sidewalk and the pedestrian traffic is bumped out toward the road.

According to a staff report, if every downtown restaurant that participated in the 2020 Patio Program were to participate again, with a couple of additions, the cost of the rental structures would be approximately $27,000. Staff are hoping to receive a Healthy Communities grant to cover the majority of the costs.

While the town considered building their own patio bump-outs, the prohibitive cost of lumber and other supplies during COVID-19 made them seek more cost-friendly alternatives.