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'It’s going to be wild:' restaurant staff working hard to get ready for patio launch

Restaurant workers in Downtown Guelph stressed the need to be patient as the new season opens Friday

After getting the green light from the province this week, restaurant staff in Downtown Guelph were seen working tirelessly setting up patios to open Friday.

With the warm weather and lifted restrictions, restaurants have gotten a good idea on what to expect. 

“It’s going to be wild,” said Brandon Rennie, co-owner of Gin Mill.

“We hope that people are patient with us. I mean they’re rusty, we’re rusty too so we’re all going to be running at the same time.”

Bars and restaurants in Downtown Guelph were seen setting up tables, finishing up their new wood patios and adding finishing touches.  

Gin Mill planned on a 12:01 a.m. opening.

For Rennie it was the excitement and a bunch of energy drinks that kept him working non-stop Thursday. 

“Technically it opens at 12:01 a.m. on Friday,” said Rennie who expects approximately 24 customers on the patio now and 50 customers when restrictions ease.

He said when the provincial announcement was made to reopen, customer emails to make reservations began pouring in. 

And restaurants are getting creative with the restrictions too. 

Taj Marshall, owner of Rise and Shine Brunch is putting up beach umbrellas and playing soca and reggae music for customers on the patio to enjoy Caribbean food. 

“They can’t go to the beach, so I’ll bring the beach to them,” said Marshall. 

“People have been under a lot of stress. They want somewhere to go. They can’t go anywhere so this is the ideal thing.”

NV Kitchen + Bar built new decks this year that can accommodate roughly 45 people while customers socially distance.

“It’s a mad dash right now. It’s exciting,” said Randon Hiles, co-owner of NV who was seen cutting wood pieces to build boxes around palm trees on the new deck. 

Hiles said the restaurant has been getting non-stop calls from customers trying to make a reservation.

“I stopped answering the phone,” said Hiles.  “It’s first come first serve.”

La Reina began working on setting up its outdoor deck on Tuesday with tables spaced exactly spaced six feet apart on an elevated new wood deck with ample shade from patio umbrellas. 

Dawson Deck, a La Reina employee, said the restaurant expects to seat approximately 170 customers on both its patios combined and has been receiving calls from customers for the last three days hoping to book a reservation. 

“People sound excited,” said Deck adding that patios will function on a first-come, first-serve basis.

“We’re all prepared as a staff and as a restaurant to accommodate everyone as best as possible and do our best to make it as smooth regardless,” said Deck. 

He said restaurants haven’t been able to offer table-side service for two months, and patio service since last fall so it’s important to remember that staff may be a little out of practice.

“We’re all going to be working as hard as possible and it’s going to be long days. So just give us a little bit of grace and we will do our best to accommodate everyone to make sure you have the best time possible," said Deck.


Anam Khan

About the Author: Anam Khan

Anam Khan is a journalist who covers numerous beats in Guelph and Wellington County that include politics, crime, features, environment and social justice
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