COVID-19 Restrictions in Ontario: Calabogie Restaurants Adapt to Winter Terraces

CALABOGIE, ONT. – At Redneck Bistro in Calabogie, Ont., All the chairs inside are stacked away, but there are still seats to be found outside.

The local eatery set up their outdoor winter terrace on Thursday after the province reintroduced restrictions to shut down indoor dining. It is a modest setup that includes six seats spread across two tables, covered by a tent with patio heaters. It is the bistro’s attempt to continue to provide the service they can.

Calabogie Winter Terrace

“We’re just doing our best to accommodate our customers within the constraints and guidelines set for us,” said Jordan Gorra, a waitress at Redneck Bistro, and Calabogie local.

Saturday was a challenge for the restaurant, with the region waking up to a warning of frostbite and temperatures only rising to around -14 degrees around lunchtime. But Gorra says they are still trying to accommodate their customers who enjoy the cold, such as snowmobiles, skiers and ice fishermen using the local trails and waterways.

“It’s definitely frustrating, but as a company, I feel like we’ve done a really good job of keeping our clientele out,” Gorra says. “We really just wanted to give them a place where they could come and take a break. Get off track a bit, warm up and get something good to eat.”

Just across the street from Calabogie Brewing Co. their winter terrace is nothing new, but it is becoming even more popular.

“We always get snowmobiles up here in Calabogie, a lot of skiers, they’re already dressed for the outdoors, and we’ve had the campfire sites for years,” said Tracy Fredricks, taproom manager at Calabogie Brewing. “It’s just something we’ve expanded on being locked inside.”

Traveled not far from Ottawa, Martin O’Malley spent well over an hour enjoying the cold beer, colder temperatures, but also a warm fire.

“You want to be able to do things, we also like to do things outdoors,” O’Malley told CTV News Ottawa. “So to find a place, yes, with the more limited options right now, you look at things and try to find things that are still open that you can still go and do.”

While winter patio setups serve to keep restaurants open and workers busy in the face of closures, they are also growing the tourist attraction, which is the Ottawa Valley.

Calabogie winter terrace

Spencer Whitney and Emily Pritchard visit Calabogie from Oshawa for a birthday weekend and found out about Calabogie Brewing Co.’s winter patio on Instagram.

“We already knew in a way that we wanted to do things outdoors, but it was a little boring with the closure of the restaurants,” Whitney says. “We thought we were going to make this or that restaurant, but now we have to go out, so whatever.”

The couple say they completed a hike at Eagle’s Nest Lookout Trail and sought to make the most of their weekend despite closures and cold temperatures.

“You have to enjoy it somehow,” Pritchard says. “You can not go in and eat, so you might as well enjoy a beer outside.”

“If it were not for the fires, it would be a little cold,” Whitney adds, “but it’s good, it’s worth it.”

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