Toronto’s CaféTO program is expected to be bigger and better this year after the city council unanimously approved an update to help local street restaurants and bars.
According to the city, staff will be working with Business Improvement Area’s local restaurant and bar operators to make enhancements such as updating registration methods for a more “clear and straightforward process.” Registrations will also start sooner, developing traffic management plans to make sure curb lane cafés are as safe as they can be for people dining, employees, and road users.
“We are bringing CaféTO back, and it will be bigger and better this year. The restaurant operators and BIAs we have heard from are enthusiastic about the return of this program because it has helped local businesses stay in business, helped protect jobs, and CaféTO has improved the quality of life in our city for residents,” said Mayor John Tory in the news release.
These measures will also allow some owners and operators to build decks and platforms for curb lane café areas, where it is possible, and ensure there is “accessible furniture for public parklet areas, commitment to ensure more restaurants outside of the city’s core are ready to take advantage of opportunities for quick expansion of outdoor dining.”
Registrations for the expanded CaféTO program are set to begin in late February and depending on public health orders, the first approved CaféTO curb lane closure locations for 2021 could be installed by May – almost two months earlier than 2020.
In a city-led CaféTO survey of approximately 2,800 restaurant and bar owners/operators and members of the public, 95% said they’d want to see CaféTO operate in 2021. In addition, 90% of those surveyed were very satisfied or satisfied with their patio experience, and 66% of operators said their restaurant would not have been financially viable without CaféTO.
In 2020, CaféTO supported 801 restaurants in 62 BIAs across Toronto, including 96 restaurants outside BIAs.