Gananoque, Ont. restaurant pivots to patio dining to avoid vaccine mandate

With vaccine records now required to eat indoors at restaurants across Ontario, a Gananoque restaurant says they’ve decided to stick to patio dining and take out.

Ray Stedman says even though he’s fully vaccinated, he didn’t feel comfortable asking for the medical record.

“We talked about it a lot and we found it was the right thing to do,” said Stedman.

The patio can seat more than 50 people under COVID-19 guidelines, and while he says he doesn’t know what shutting down indoor business will mean financially, he says swapping to smaller plates aims to help soften the blow.

“We’ve zeroed in on what the public wanted and that’s how we survived. We changed our menus weekly; daily, depending on what people want. And we’ll continue to do that.”

Stedman says, with winter around the corner, he’ll work to make customers feel comfortable and warm.

“(We’ll) bring the heater type tables in, the fireplace tables, and we’re also looking at what the rules are right now as far as a tent goes because is it classified as inside or outside?”

Other restaurants, like Stonewater Pub, say checking vaccine certificates is going smoothly.

"People are prepared. Some are even handing it over before I even ask," says supervisor Melanie Eldridge.

Eldridge says they’re seeing some faces return inside that they haven’t seen through the pandemic.

“Feels great,” she explains, “because if they can be comfortable, we can be comfortable too, right?”

Stedman says that even as his business remains weather dependant, he remains optimistic.

“Local people and people who are coming out to support us,” he says, “it’s definitely helping.”