The Yonge + St. Clair BIA (Business Improvement Area) has launched an innovative concept running Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays this summer. PATIO, located at 1503 Yonge, brings together 11 (and counting) local restaurants and provides 20 socially distanced outdoor tables for a new kind of al fresco dining experience. The response from the neighbourhood and restaurants has been overwhelmingly positive, says YSC BIA executive director Mackenzie Keast. “It really puts the power in their hands. It’s almost like a cross between sitting down to the patio and ordering UberEats.”
So how does it work? Scan the QR code on your table, order from your chosen restaurant and the food will be delivered to your table. You’re craving Italian but your partner wants Indian? No problem. Your table can order from as many different participating restaurants as you want. There’s also an on-site bar for beer, wine and cocktails. Customers pay directly through their phones, and the automatic gratuity is divided between PATIO staff, food runners and the restaurant.
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The increased traffic has been a welcome boon to restaurants still struggling under reduced capacity restrictions, even as patios begin to open for the season. “Every little bit helps in getting them some extra opportunity to make some sales. The restaurants have nowhere near the amount of dining capacity that they [used to]. We’re giving them extra tables to sell to customers. So it’s really adding to their ability to slowly get towards that pre-COVID normal that they used to be,” says Keast.
PATIO has a range of offerings perfect for lunch, dinner or late-night snacks. For lunch, try Zelden’s Deli and Desserts and choose from crispy pork belly avocado sliders, eggplant parmesan sandwich or a classic foot-long hot dog. Health conscious? Go for masala roasted cauliflower, sesame soba noodles and a greensicle smoothie from Mary Be Kitchen. If you’re craving Italian, choose from Boccone Deli or Pizza Bar or Capocaccia Trattoria.
PATIO’s lineup also includes 9 bars (South American), Ambiyan on Yonge (Indian), Barsteiner’s (pan-European), Brownes Bistro (class bistro), Mermaid Fish and Grill House (Mediterranean seafood) and Midtown Gastro Hub (pub classics).
The project has been such a success, Keast anticipates that PATIO will become an annual event at Yonge + St. Clair, and hopes other neighbourhoods will launch similar projects. In the meantime, reservations are recommended.