Patio's are in season

Carefully consider the costs and practicalities if you’re thinking of adding a patio to your business

With spring approaching the streets are alive with Canadians starved for fresh air and outdoor dining experiences.

There’s nothing like hearing the sounds of music and laughter wafting from a roof top patio or down the alley from the back of a restaurant.

There’s no doubt that during the warmer months, a patio can increase your restaurant’s attractiveness. But, on the other hand, with only a few months of comfortable weather in Canada, is it worth the expense?

Before you decide if you want to create a patio, you might want to look up your city’s regulations. An excellent resource for this is Here you can type in your postal code and details about your business, and the site will refer you to what permits you may need.

Another important thing to look at is smoking regulations. B.C. allows smoking on patios that aren’t enclosed as long as the smoke isn’t entering the restaurant. However, your municipality or local health authority may have additional regulations you need to consider. Even if you’re satisfied that your customers may legally smoke on your patio, you may want to consider how you will address complaints by your neighbours or by fellow diners.

Another major factor restaurants need to consider is the space they have available. You may have room for a patio in your back lane, but is this going to be an appealing space for diners? You might have to look at “greening” the area by planting trees and shrubs or totally fencing off the patio to screen customers from the sight of dumpsters and compost heaps. Check out some decoration suppliers at

Are you a contractor who can help with building, design or décor of restaurant patios? Do you sell patio furniture? Link your services to thousands of B.C. restaurants at href=

Another thing to consider is whether you have sufficient staff to service a patio. There’s nothing worse for a customer than sitting outside wondering if the wait staff knows you are there. Consider hiring temporary staff for the summer months.

Are you thinking about just a few tables on the sidewalk? Again it’s important to check out your municipality’s regulations. It’s also important to consider the comfort of pedestrians. If you’re customers are smoking, are they going to complain? Are your tables impeding their movement? They won’t consider eating at your business if your tables become a nuisance. Also consider how you will deal with people who are using your chairs and tables as a public rest area. Staff may not relish the idea of having to police the outdoor tables. Fencing can help make it clear to the public that the area is for customers.

What do you think? Is a patio worth the time and effort? Have you added a patio? What are some of the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them? Are you considering adding a patio? What questions do you have? Join our forum to discuss your ideas and concerns at, or follow on Twitter and join the conversation.