Longhorn Saloon

Ponoka businesses gearing up for patio season

A number of local businesses have opened up their patios, or have expanded or built new ones since the provincial government announced outdoor dining would be permitted under the current COVID-19 restrictions.

The Town of Ponoka had received and approved two applications to set up temporary seasonal patios on town land and had received and approved four development permit applications to set up temporary seasonal patios on private land as of April 26, according to communications manager Sandra Smith.

READ MORE: Town of Ponoka launches new temporary seasonal patio program

The businesses that submitted the permit applications were The Bird Drug Co., the Hitchin’ Post Saloon & Grill, the Longhorn Saloon & Grill, the Old Iron Horse Restaurant, Leland Hotel and the Waterin’ Hole.

The Royal Hotel Ponoka’s back patio is open as well, Wednesday to Saturday, 12 to 7 p.m.

A number of Alberta municipal councils have approved policies or programs that aim to make things a bit easier for small businesses to open patios to customers.

The Town of Ponoka launched its new temporary seasonal patio program earlier this month, in response to restrictions on indoor dining. Ponoka’s program waives the development permit fee, and vows to streamline the process for those applying to set up a temporary patio on public or private property.

While having a way to serve more customers is an urgent need for many businesses, at least one popular Ponoka eatery is hesitating to invest too much in outdoor dining spaces.

The Raspberry Patch owner Sharon Weibel says she’s put a few tables out back, but she wants to gauge customer interest in using the space before putting more dollars into making the space more comfortable.

What she has in mind would cost about $1,500.

Weibel is also considering placing some bistro tables in the front of business, but is concerned about theft.

She had the flower planters stolen from out front in broad daylight and fears anything she put out would be taken, she says.

Anything left outside “grows legs or gets destroyed,” she said.

If she can find a way to secure and enclose tables outside, either out front or behind the shop, then she can move forward with making them nice spaces, with perhaps a catering tent to shelter it.

“I need to secure it and that’s the hard part.”

She also still needs to apply for the permit with the town and would need to change her insurance.

Weibel also says she wishes the town’s program did more, as other communities, such as Lacombe, are allowing businesses to take up parking spaces with their temporary patios.

As it is, she says she’ll just be doing her best to survive over the next month or so.

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