You may have already noticed King West looking a little bit different this year. In addition to it being the first summer with the pilot project in full swing, bars and restaurants are promoting discounts and the City’s doing a lot of legwork to get more people down to one of Toronto’s hottest neighborhoods. As far as summer patios go, 2018 might be King West’s biggest year for them.
As the results from King Street’s pilot project continue to have a mix of negative consequences for so many of the small businesses that line the neighborhood, the City of Toronto has agreed to waive application fees for businesses seeking to set up patios and public seating areas between Jarvis and Bathurst. That has meant numerous restaurants and bars setting up some very price front porch-esque patios along the King West neighborhood’s busiest route.
There are currently nine summer patios approved for King West and with a tenth pending. Combined with the public art installations that have been proposed, King West may end up looking completely re-designed by mid-summer. That’s the hope, anyway. So many commuters travel through King Street West every day and since the pilot project launched almost a year ago, there’s been a lot less exploration on-foot. Small business revenues have suffered, restaurants and grocery stories in the neighborhood have struggled, and the City has launched a handful of initiatives to get people down to King West.
Summer patio season might prove to be the perfect collection of circumstances to re-launch King West as a go-to destination for those wanting to explore Toronto. TTC ridership along King has already increased, summer pedestrian travel is likely to be average or above this summer, and the launch of so many patios will have some begging to join the party.
To some of the service-based businesses on King Street, they’re seeing this as a last-ditch effort to see if there’s merit or placement for them in the pilot project. Thankfully, the restaurants that have already set up their summertime patios on King West have seen more customers opt to sit outside and take in the weather. For these businesses, life’s been good and busy for the most part. For those who have not yet implemented their summer patios, they must adhere to positioning that accommodates the TTC streetcar stops, the ‘cycle zone’, and any public space installations.
It remains to be seen whether the application fee for curb lane summer patios is going to be permanently waived by the City though it’s unlikely. For the time being, patios are required to be closed and cleared by midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and by 11 pm any other night of the week.
For any King West residents or anyone nearby looking for some place to eat and enjoy some Toronto vibes, the restaurants and bars with curbside patios are definitely worth checking out. Join some friends or if you have family visiting, taking them down to your favourite King West spot is a fine opportunity to enjoy the best food in the city. For sunny business lunches, post-work drinks and camaraderie, or weekend brunch, grab a spot on one of the summer patios. So many King West business owners struggled through a tough winter and are hoping their summer successes can help offset some of the unexpected financial losses this past year. So this summer let’s show King West some love!