The City of Toronto CaféTO program is ready to support local restaurants with expanded outdoor dining space as soon as Toronto enters Step One of the Province of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen on Friday, June 11.
CaféTO is a very popular program that has been in high demand for restaurant and bar owners who need access to more safe outdoor dining space for customers as well as for their staff. When Toronto enters Step One of the provincial reopening tomorrow, outdoor dining will be permitted for groups of up to four people from different households, providing public health measures including wearing a mask or face covering and distancing or barriers between tables, are in place. When subject to no other regulations, most patios facing main streets may serve alcohol until 2 a.m. and must close by 2:45 a.m. Patios facing local side streets must close by 11 p.m., with last call for alcohol at 10:15 p.m.
The program is expected to support more than 1,000 restaurants in Business Improvement Areas (BIA) and non-BIAs across the city this summer with expanded outdoor dining options in curb lanes and on sidewalks. The program is also expected to support more expanded dining space on private property (such as in plaza parking lots) this year as part of a temporary zoning change approved by Toronto City Council in the spring.
In late April, the City of Toronto, in consultation with Toronto Public Health, made the clear decision to move forward with its CaféTO installation schedule as planned. The intent was to ensure as many approved local restaurants and bars as possible could be ready to open immediately when outdoor dining was permitted by the Province.
Installation of curb lane cafés, which includes installing traffic safety equipment and following detailed traffic safety plans, began as planned on May 8 and has continued around the clock throughout May and into June.
All approved curb lane (on-street) cafés from each of the first two CaféTO registration windows have been installed and are ready to use immediately by those restaurants starting Friday. Similarly, registered and approved operators will be permitted to setup safe and accessible sidewalk cafés right away.
CaféTO curb lane installations from registration window three are on-going and will continue over the coming weeks.
So far this year, the City has approved more than 960 restaurants for curb lane and sidewalk café locations. More than 520 curb lanes closures supporting more than 750 restaurants have been installed. More applications are coming in daily as part of registration window three. Registration for curb lane locations is expected to remain open until mid-August and registration for sidewalk cafés will be available through spring 2022.
The City is committed to making CaféTO more accessible than before. Workers have already installed 650 asphalt curb ramps, and the City expects to double the number of ramps installed last year when 375 were put in place.
More BIAs will see CaféTO locations installed this year (71 in 2021 versus 61 in 2020), and more restaurants in non-BIAs will be supported (140 in 2021 versus 96 in 2020). As well, approximately 30 per cent of restaurants requesting curb lane cafés are new program participants that did not have a curb lane café in 2020.
In 2019, before the pandemic, the City supported approximately 660 restaurants with registered cafés. In 2020, the first year for CaféTO, the program supported an additional 616 restaurants (nearly double) with new outdoor dining space in curb lanes and on sidewalks that was not previously available. In all of 2020, CaféTO supported more than 800 restaurants with new or expanded outdoor dining spaces.
CaféTO is a City of Toronto COVID-19 response program that was launched during the pandemic to provide urgent help to local restaurants and bars. The program promises to be bigger and better in 2021 by making it easier to open safe and accessible patios in curb lanes and along sidewalks, expand them as needed and access additional space for physical distancing. CaféTO space has proven to help many operators generate revenue while also enlivening nearby public spaces.
Restaurant operators are encouraged to add their restaurant to Destination Toronto's ToGoToronto.com, a free listing of more than 700 Toronto restaurants that are open for safe takeout, delivery and patios as public health restrictions allow. The platform was created by Destination Toronto in partnership with the City to support the economic recovery of the restaurant community. Learn more at www.togotoronto.com/.
Details about CaféTO, including how to register, are available at www.toronto.ca/cafeto.
“CaféTO will ensure we are helping more than a thousand restaurants in Toronto open safely and generate revenue this summer. We committed to being ready for patio season, and to making sure we are doing everything as a City to help businesses be ready to safely welcome customers as soon as outdoor dining is allowed. Restaurants will be able to open their CaféTO patios immediately. I encourage residents to enjoy outdoor dining this weekend and support their local restaurants and all the people they employ.”
– Mayor John Tory
“Local restaurants need urgent support so I’m glad CaféTO is ready to help. Cafés in the public right of way that are safe and accessible will support many restaurants on Toronto’s main streets. CaféTO will also be ready to help suburban areas with a zoning amendment that allows for more outdoor space on private property such as plaza parking lots. I look forward to safely enjoying time on a local patio this summer.”
– Councillor Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough-Rouge Park), Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee