Business owners give patio pilot two thumbrellas up
“There’s one thing I love to do on vacation, and that’s eating outside.”
It’s Saturday, September 12 and Patty Scott from Buffalo, New York, is in her glory. The sun is shining, her beer is cold and her server, Alex Madley, just put down a plate of nachos for her and her husband to enjoy.
The Scotts were giving their ringing endorsement to a one-season experiment by the Municipality of Jasper and participating restaurants to pilot sidewalk seating in the downtown core.
“It’s great. We don’t get to do it much at home,” she said.
This past May, the pilot project was conceived as a way for the town to try out the concept of sidewalk seating while Jasper administrators figured out a process to allow for the commercial use of public land. If the pilot went well, it was thought, the opportunity for business owners to take over part of the sidewalks on Connaught Drive and Patricia Street could be made more permanent.
“We want to hear what people have to say,” said Mark Fercho, CAO for the town. The municipality will provide feedback forms for restaurants and Fercho is hoping the public speaks up, too.
In the meantime, for the businesses who talked to The Local, sidewalk seating gets two thumbrellas-up.
“We have nothing but good things to say about it,” said Alex Derksen, co-owner of the Jasper Brew Pub, where the Scotts were enjoying their patio beers.
“It’s been great,” Northface Pizza’s Brady Bangle agreed.
“No issues,” said Papa George’s Swantje Pleister.
Despite fears of butts landing in breakfast wraps, menus blowing over Roche Bonhomme and seats competing with strollers and scooters for sidewalk space, the restaurants involved learned how to give their customers an outdoor eating experience without service suffering, said Pleister.
“We have a nice set up,” she said.
PapaG’s four tables are tastefully fenced in with log railings; the Brew Pub was able to fit 32 sidewalk seats because their building is set back from the property line. Northface Pizza’s set up is more humble—two picnic tables comprise their patio. But overall, sidewalk congestion on Connaught was a non-issue, those polled said.
“I think everyone thought there’d be a bottleneck,” Derksen said. “This proved it was manageable.”
In front of Patricia Street’s Coco’s Café, sidewalk real estate is a bit more limited. Owner Lynn Wannop tried a couple of different versions of patio seating before she (and the municipality) were satisfied that she could serve her customers without affecting pedestrian traffic.
“I love it,” she said. “It’s been awesome.”
There was some static on Facebook. Naysayers suggested—unkindly, at times—that Coco’s setup was too encroaching on walking space. But Wannop was playing by the rules: she moved bike racks and ensured there was at least 1.8 metres of space between her patio and the curb. “The municipality has been great to work with,” she said.
Did we miss your feedback on sidewalk seating? Email email@example.com