Downtown Red Deer patio restaurants have been busy this summer. Contributed photo

Successful patio season for Red Deer restaurants

Eateries get creative

Nothing beats good food, beer and sunny weather on the patio.

And Red Deerians have been doing exactly that this summer, according to positive reports from some of the city’s patio restaurants.

Tribe manager Brandon Bouchard said the downtown has become a destination this summer for Red Deerians and visitors alike.

That’s due to the Ross Street Patio, sunny weather and the support-local movement, said Bouchard.

“We’re seeing new faces. They come downtown and discover the great spaces and they’re telling their friends. Here at Tribe, we have people coming from other cities, from Edmonton and Calgary, because they heard of us,” he said.

“Support-local is no longer just a catchphrase.”

On days when there were live musical performances on Ross Street Patio, revenues at Tribe went up, said Bouchard.

“Our revenue compared to days without any programming sometimes doubled or even tripled.

“Every single week we’ve been open, we’ve seen higher revenues compared to the week prior.”

Taco Loft – another downtown restaurant – has also enjoyed a profitable summer. The restaurant opened about two weeks before COVID-19 hit Alberta, explained co-owner Mike Ubbing.

He said the pandemic was a blessing for Taco Loft. It was a time when many major franchise restaurants had to shut down, but the downtown taco eatery was able to keep going with its takeout option.

The restaurant initially had a smaller patio, but Ubbing realized the demand was high for outdoor seating. So he built another patio, and within a month and a half, he found business went up by about 56 per cent.

Patrick Malkin, co-owner at The Granary Kitchen in the south end of the city, said there were many sunny afternoons this summer, and the restaurant’s patio was full on all of those days.

“Well, as full as it can be with the restrictions,” he said.

Malkin said the restaurant extended its hours to include breakfast, and the patio was full even on those early mornings.

“I assume all restaurants, but us certainly, we have come up with creative ways of what we have to do to keep revenues up,” said Malkin.

The patio season has also been successful for Bo’s Bar and Grill, said owner Brennen Wowk.

“Patio season has always been positive (for us), especially this year, in terms of the weather,” he said.

But all good things come to an end and so will patio season, starting in October.

Come fall, restaurants such as The Granary Kitchen and Taco Loft will continue to get creative and roll with the punches to keep their customer base strong and their revenues up.

Wowk said events such as live music are a big part of his restaurant’s success, and that isn’t possible with the ongoing restrictions. That, combined with other restrictions on capacity, will make it a tough fall for many businesses, he said.

“As a business owner, I would love to be able to have a business operating as it was prior to COVID. But I understand the limitations and why we need to have restrictions in place,” Wowk said.

Bouchard said he isn’t worried about the end of patio season – because that usually corresponds with the arrival of the holiday season, which is also a busy time for Tribe.

“It’s not until January or February when things slow down, and if momentum keeps going the way it is, we will be OK,” he said.

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