If you read this blog fairly regularly you know that I’m a fan of Food Trucks. I enjoy being able to eat my meals outside. Yet, there’s more than one way to enjoy outdoors dining. Winnipeg also has a large number of patios where you can enjoy you food and drink. Patio dining allows you to watch the world go by and engage with friends and strangers as they pass by on the street.
For years people in Winnipeg have tended to associate patios with Corydon Avenue but over the last few years the numbers of patios in the downtown has increased quite considerably. Back in 2006 there were 22 patios downtown. At that time the Downtown Winnipeg Biz started encouraging the restaurants among their members to add patio space. In the nine years since the number of patios has increased by almost 75%, to where there are now 36 patios downtown.
The patio program, which is funded by member businesses, offers an A to Z guide for businesses on how to get started on a patio. Along with the guide several members of the Biz team, including Jason Sivixay, Stephanie Voyce, and Melanie Andrushko, our tour guide, have backgrounds in city planning and urban design. Plus, the patio program helps the businesses navigate the many regulations and licensing steps. Finally, the patio program provides loans of equipment, at no cost. for businesses wanting to give patos a trial run.
Yesterday, I was part of an invited group of journalists and bloggers who were taken on a patio tour. The Downtown Biz offers a series of tours throughout the summer. Our group visited four locations, Casa Burrito, Fools and Horses Coffee, Bar Red Sea, and Clay Oven at the Hydro Building. These locations are part of a couple of the tours on offer.
This was a walking tour. One of the great things about a walking tour is that it gives you a chance to easily flow back and forth among the other people on the tour. This meant that I was able to visit with just about everyone of the dozen or so people there. Along with mainstream media such as CBC, Winnipeg Free Press, and the Metro, there were a few bloggers.
It’s always good to touch base with my fellow bloggers. Among those on the tour were Sagan Morrow, Wendy Elias-Gagnon of EatSipSlurp, and Susie Erjavec Parker from Momstown Winnipeg. We were also joined by staff from Streetside Developments.
At each location we were given a sample of the food that each restaurant specializes in. We also heard each owner explain why a patio was a good idea for them. As well, we heard about some of the ways that Downtown Biz patio program had assisted or was assisting them in the process.
With four different stops, not only was there plenty of food on the tour, but the variety was equally plentiful. From Mexican at Casa Burrito, Ethiopian at Bar Red Sea, Charcuterie at Fools and Horses, and Indian at Clay Oven the tour featured a little bit of something for everyone’s tastes. Below is a gallery of most of the items we tried.