THUNDER BAY — Diners who prefer to enjoy their restaurant meals in the outdoors will have a number of new choices in Thunder Bay this summer.
So far, three restaurants have submitted applications under the new pop-up patio program, all in the north core.
The pilot project allows businesses to utilize on-street parking spaces to effectively re-route the adjacent sidewalk.
Under another program, restaurants may apply for bistro patios, which are smaller sidewalk patios that don't affect the pedestrian path.
Five applications for those have been submitted to this point.
Joel DePeuter, Manager of Realty Services for the city, says the publicity about the pop-up patio program has helped raise awareness in the local restaurant industry about the appeal of outdoor dining.
DePeuter said he feels "three is a good number" for the pilot pop-ups "to see how things work."
The program is a two-year pilot. "If we move on to a permanent program, I see the number building," DePeuter added.
Jim Comuzzi, chair of the Waterfront District Business Improvement Area, said "every city in Ontario, really, has pop-up patios, except Thunder Bay. This new program has really brought more awareness, no question."
Comuzzi noted that some of the restaurants "will have to go through some extensive costs because the infrastructure really isn't there, and they're going to have to build the infrastructure to make it work."
He said he commends those businesses for putting in the time and effort "because it is something that we really would like to see all through the north core and the south core."
The Red Lion on South Cumberland Street hopes to launch its pop-up patio later this month.
A spokesperson for Apple Chipotle's BBQ Grillhouse on South Court Street said it also plans to have its pop-up ready by the end of June.
The Foundry on Red River Road expects to open its pop-up patio sometime in July or August.
Madhouse, on Bay Street, has just opened a 16-seat outdoor patio under the bistro patio program.