Patio ban cuts lifeline to London, Ont. restaurants

The early arrival of patio weather has pandemic-battered businesses yearning of what could have been.

Last summer, outdoor patios fuelled local restaurants and bars, but province-wide restrictions forbid them from reopening for the next month.

“Your hands are tied,” laments Shane Kenneth, who owns Coffee Culture on Dundas Place. “We’ve got this beautiful patio made by Fire & Iron that’s expandable.”

It’s the latest financial hurdle for Kenneth and his family, who are seeing only a small fraction of the business they would normally expect.

“We were probably expecting to have 95 per cent more (business) than we are seeing right now,” he adds.

But it’s no longer just restaurateurs and bar owners expressing frustration.

On Tuesday, London Mayor Ed Holder questioned the outdoor dining ban during a regularly scheduled media briefing.

“I have no idea still why they are unable to offer outdoor dining,” Holder said. “In the meantime, I would encourage all Londoners to take advantage of curbside pickup or order directly from the restaurant.”

If the province refuses to budge on patios, Kenneth worries about all the businesses along his stretch of Dundas Place.

After enduring two years of construction, they’re now entering their second summer of evolving pandemic restrictions.

“Its not nice to see friends struggling. This is a community down here.”