The Laughing Buddha is trying something new this year and is planning to keep its patio open, offering customers a heater and blankets. (Molly Frommer/CTV News)

Many restaurants around the country, including ones here in the north, have had a tough time during the pandemic. That's why one restaurant in Sudbury is trying to extend the patio season into the colder months.

The Laughing Buddha is trying something new this year and is planning to keep its patio open.

“The thing that people love the most about us, I think, is our patio … so we were looking to extend the life span of that in a creative and new way,” said Veronica Desjardins, general manger of The Laughing Buddha.

The restaurant is offering warming features as a way to welcome guests to the patio when it’s cold. Staff say it gives customers a unique option.

“I think there’s people who are comfortable with sitting inside and there’s people who aren’t comfortable inside and people are kind of venturing into that at their own pace,” said Desjardins. “We are currently offering fire tables with heaters, we have s’more kits available for guests when they come in, we have blankets available that we wash between every single use.”

More than happy outside

Regardless of the temperatures, people have been more than happy to gather outdoors.

“I think it’s awesome -- I love coming to patios in the summer and I love the fall weather, so I think it’s just a really nice spin on it,” said customer Katrina Villeneuve. "It’s really cozy, they provide blankets and the spiked coffees are nice."

Bella Vita Cucina, another local restaurant, says because of the sudden change in temperature, its patio closed mid September.

“Once we had the patio closed down because it wasn’t warm enough, we knew we had between 40 and 45, which we used to have 75 seats inside,” said Filippo Rocca, owner of Bella Vita Cucina.

“So right now it's a little bit restricted. So the hours for my staff are less because having less people means I need less staff.”

Rocca said the restaurant’s customers have been very supportive during the pandemic and between 30 and 40 per cent of them have been ordering takeout.

As for The Laughing Buddha, the plan is to keep the patio open all winter long.