Swan Hills has been treated to a new and very welcome sight over the past week, patio dining. In response to Alberta’s latest health measures regarding restaurants and cafes, Swan Hills’s downtown eateries have opened up patio dining areas. With the recent health restrictions limiting restaurants, cafes, bars, and pubs to only offering delivery, takeout, or outdoor patio dining, providing patio service allows these local businesses to continue offering in-person dining options to their customers while still operating within the health guidelines.
Swan Hills residents have mostly welcomed and enthusiastically supported this initiative to maintain in-person dining options in town, with few evident complaints. The Town of Swan Hills has also been supportive of this move by supporting the business owners’ requests to use the sidewalk space in front of their businesses for this purpose. The Town granted the businesses temporary leave to use these spaces and has helped at least one business to problem solve a solution after they had run into an issue.
Raghu from Sammy’s Family Restaurant describes the Town and the Swan Hills community as having been encouraging and helpful. Sammy’s set up their patio on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant on April 15 but received a complaint about the tables and chairs blocking the sidewalk. In response, the Town provided traffic barrier equipment the next day so that Sammy’s could section off a couple of the parking spaces in front of the restaurant and use that space instead. As Raghu points out, this has been a hard time for everyone, and it’s more important than ever to support local businesses, including restaurants.
Karry Yaro, the owner of the Cool Beans Café, set up a patio space with tables and chairs on the sidewalk outside the café on Monday, April 15. She has also received a positive response from her customers, who appreciate the chance to dine in person instead of being limited to takeout dining. The response from customers has been so enthusiastic that Karry expressed interest in exploring the possibility of continuing with outdoor dining even after the health restrictions have been lifted. Karry reiterated the point that local businesses are hurting and need support from the community if they are going to survive. She also highlighted how important local businesses are to the local economy. The Cool Beans Café had employed three people from the community when they opened. As the impact from the pandemic has continued, they have had to let one person go and find themselves having to reduce the business’ hours of operations to lower expenses.
Jessica Dinos from the Swan Palace said that the idea to open up a patio dining area came shortly after the new health restrictions had been announced. A health inspector had come by the restaurant, and in the course of business, had informed her that the restaurants in town could put out picnic tables or the equivalent to offer an outdoor dining option that would satisfy the province’s requirements.
Jessica reported feeling uncertain about the idea of blocking off the sidewalk in front of the restaurant at first. A long-time customer, who is also a contractor in town, asked if the Swan Palace would be setting up a patio. After some discussion, the customer contacted the Town Office and secured permission for the restaurant to set up a temporary patio space. This generous customer and their spouse then went even further above and beyond, providing the materials and labour to build a sizable patio space in front of the restaurant. The Swan Palace set up their tables and chairs on their new patio, and they were ready to go.
Having the patio dining space has made a significant difference for the Swan Palace as sales had fallen dramatically with the pandemic health restrictions. Jessica expressed overwhelming gratitude to the restaurant’s benefactors who created the patio space for the restaurant and to the community for showing so much support. The restaurant has been much busier than usual since the patio went into service. Jessica asks the Swan Hills community to be mindful not to litter while dining outdoors, as the Town Administration had cautioned against this.
Jessica has submitted the required paperwork to apply for a permit to serve alcohol on the patio and hopes to have this service available next week (the week of April 19). Jessica would like to thank the community for their support and the generous couple that facilitated and built the restaurant’s new patio. She describes feeling overwhelmed by the support that the Swan Palace has received and is extremely grateful.
With the spring weather being mostly clear and sunny, the timing couldn’t be any more perfect for Swan Hills to experience our own patio scene. Please support our local restaurants while enjoying the new outdoor dining opportunities.