Mmmm… a warm summer evening on a patio, accompanied by great local music and interesting art, followed by some shopping… could there be any more perfect combination?
Well, readers, we’re in luck! From now until Labour Day weekend, The City of Orillia in partnership with Downtown Orillia is once again holding its popular See You on the Patio Program, subject to COVID-19 health and safety regulations, in support of local businesses and artists.
Every Friday and Saturday evening, from 5 to 11 p.m., downtown streets are closed to traffic to allow restaurants, cafés and businesses a safe, outdoor opportunity to serve guests. Restaurants and merchants are encouraged to host their own entertainment during the road closures and shops are open late.
So far, 20 restaurants and cafés are participating in the program downtown.
Last year’s program, conceived to offset the financial effects of COVID-19, was a great success.
“As an Orillia area resident, I love seeing the downtown core come alive at night,” commented one guest in a post-event survey. “We have visited every weekend since the patios have been opened and enjoy a walk downtown after dinner to visit other local retailers and friends.”
Like last year, art aficionados will enjoy demonstrations by local artists: there will be an Art Walk every Friday night in the Peter Street Arts District, and Creative Nomad Studios will be hosting Paint Nights, featuring live painters creating with a common theme.
As well, every Friday, Orillia District Arts Council will feature their artists outside Creative Nomad Studios.
More than 30 artists were employed over the summer of 2020, offering creative experiences to patio patrons.
“Orillia has such a talented, robust artistic community and great, supportive businesses,” says Councillor Ted Emond, Chair of the City of Orillia’s Economic Recovery Task Force (ERTF). “This opportunity offers a chance for both businesses and artists to come together safely and for patrons to enjoy a meal and a show. It’s a perfect match.”
“In the past weeks I have spent more time downtown than in the past year,” another 2020 visitor commented. “The closed street gave a festive feeling to the downtown, as did the restaurant patios. We ate at Era 67, The Common Stove, Brewery Bay, 125 Breakfast Club and Rustica. Service and food was great at every place. We also wandered through the shops. Thank you for this wonderful initiative!”
Another bonus: the Orillia Farmers Market will run a special night market, featuring the freshest fruits, veggies and other goodies, on Friday, July 9, Friday, July 23 and Friday, August 13 from 5 to 9 p.m.
The evolution of this innovative program has been fast, says Lisa Thomson-Roop, manager of the Downtown Orillia Management Board (DOMB).
“Last summer, we really had to pivot quickly to help our local businesses make it through,” she says, “and they did a fantastic job getting on board.”
Their efforts had a profound effect on surviving the pandemic. One business owner noted in the survey, “We think that without this project, we would have closed our doors permanently.”
To help even more, See You on the Patio also provides retailers and dining establishments with a promotional campaign highlighting local dining and take-out options.
Perhaps most importantly, feedback from the community proved that the program was very uplifting because it allowed residents to gather with friends and family in a safe setting.
“The See You On The Patio Program promotes a sense of community and pride,” says another visitor from last year’s program. “It’s great to see everyone coming together to support local businesses and the community at large.”
See You On The Patio | Orillia & Lake Country Tourism