Patios great for business, hard for business owners
Weather, city fees, insurance, downtown construction all factors in succesful patio season
With temporary patios going up around the city, it’s a sure sign that summer is not far behind — but restaurant owners face many challenges when it comes to providing an a open-air atmosphere.
About 30 bars and restaurants in downtown Halifax have temporary patios in what has become a critical aspect to the success of their businesses.
Victor Syperek, owner of the Economy Shoe Shop, set up his first patio in downtown Halifax 17 years ago. He said patios are necessary for his business but being in the patio business is not easy.
He said the weather is an important factor for success, but there are also city fees and higher insurance fees to contend with. In his case, there’s also construction of the new convention centre across the street.
"We might try to put up a plastic curtain and maybe some kind of temporary roof to keep the dust out," he said.
The city is now considering a sidewalk cafe bylaw that would replace guidelines set up in 1998, ensuring everyone is adhering to the same rules.
"I think there should be standards — widths so people in wheelchairs can get by — which a lot of people with established patios are ignoring," said Syperek.The new bylaw is not expected to be ready until at least next year. The bylaw proposal will be open for public discussion.