May 13, 2021

The Post-Pandemic Seasonal Restaurant

Here in the Gilford Street minipark in the West End, there is a restaurant – once the fabled Delilah’s (ask your older gay friends), now Robba da Matti – that has expanded their footprint (and their ceiling) to create something more enticing:

Even as they keep their airiness, they are also becoming more formal, more an extension of their indoor space.  Eventually more permanent.  Restaurants capable of creating outdoor rooms will have two year-round options based on the seasons – outdoors in good weather, where landscaping will be as mood-shaping as the interior design.

Expansion into the public realm will of course raise an issue.  How much should be privatized or made special purpose?

In the case of this restaurant, the expansion of the patio originally occurred where the space itself was little-used and didn’t block any walk-through option.  Now it has doubled.  Has it added vitality and helped keep a business alive – or is it an incremental intrusion and a concerning precedent for our public open spaces?

UPDATE: Dominic Brown commented below: “I think you’ve used a photo of the mini-park across Haro from the space in question, that shows a fellow relaxing in a big burgundy-coloured hammock under the cherry trees. That was me. I miss that place.”

You mean this one!


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  1. The only people I see using that space daily are smokers…making it unappealing for use by anyone else. So this outdoor patio for the restaurant is possibly an improvement on the current state..

  2. I used to live across the street, in Stanley Park Manor, for about 14 years.* The successive restaurants occupying that space never played music overly loud, never seemed to have rowdy or drunken guests, and never allowed waste (even paper towels, say) to escape the space they used. Honestly, they were better neighbours than many of my neighbours. So while I share your thought, that it’s private encroachment into public space, I have to say it’s pretty responsible use, and doesn’t seem to exclude anyone particularly. The City did more harm to the public’s use of that space when they took out the wooden-topped concrete tables and stools, apparently to discourage homeless people from thinking they had a right to sit there, or indeed to exist. So I’m willing to give the restaurant the benefit of the doubt.

    *I think you’ve used a photo of the mini-park across Haro from the space in question, that shows a fellow relaxing in a big burgundy-coloured hammock under the cherry trees. That was me. I miss that place.

  3. I ran past this spot yesterday and, alas, came to some different conclusions. The outdoor dining regulation is supposed to allow for outdoor dining when it is actually outdoors. Just building a temporary room outside really isn’t cutting it. And because the room is just thin plastic walls, it’s still fairly cold and has to be heated with chicken lamps. These things are so wasteful that, outside of covid times, I think they ought to be banned.

    On the other hand, I’m quite sympathetic to the desire for both outdoor space and and for indoor space that is more flexible with the seasons. Moveable window walls are perfect for our climate and they are made well enough to keep out drafts in the winter. Michael Geller made a post about this a few months ago extolling them in residential design.

  4. The patio area in photo IS the section of the mini park on the south side of Haro St. It had often been used for outdoor seating in Delilah’s days. My apartment building is shown to the far left.

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