Mayor John Tory announces first registration window for expanded CaféTO program will open this Friday

Mayor John Tory announced today that the first registration window for the expanded CaféTO program will open this Friday, February 26 at 9 a.m. The first window will remain open for a full month, until Friday, March 26, and the second window will open immediately afterward.

Starting on Friday morning, local restaurant and bar operators interested in expanding their outdoor dining space into the curb lane and onto sidewalks can register online using a clear process. Pending public health orders, approved CaféTO curb lane locations from the first window would be installed as soon as mid-May – almost two months earlier than last year and in time for the May long weekend.

The second window to register will open as soon as the first closes. Those who register during the second window can expect to have their curb lane location installed in June – prior to the Canada Day weekend. More registration windows will be available and full details will be posted online.

An online webinar for local operators is planned for Tuesday, March 2 at 9:30 a.m. The webinar will review the program requirements and help answer any questions.

City staff have worked closely with, and will continue to work with, BIAs and local restaurant and bar operators, as well as accessibility stakeholders and others to improve this year’s CaféTO program. Some of these improvements include:

  • A clearer registration process, that starts sooner, as well as an updated guidebook that includes enhancements to accessibility requirements.
  • A more efficient CaféTO installation process, to begin helping approved businesses as soon as possible once winter is over and public health regulations permit outdoor dining.
  • Commitment to ensure more restaurants in Scarborough, Etobicoke and North York are ready to take advantage of opportunities for quick expansion of outdoor dining.
  • Development of comprehensive and safe traffic management plans that will help ensure the curb lane cafés are as safe as possible for people dining, employees and people using the road.
  • Allowing some owners/operators to build temporary platforms for curb lane café areas, where applicable.
  • Ensuring there is accessible furniture for public parklet areas.

Year-round installation of sidewalk cafés has also been approved by Council. When provincial emergency orders allow for outdoor dining, operators who register via CaféTO will be permitted to set up safe and accessible sidewalk cafés as soon as possible.

CaféTO is a COVID-19 response program that was launched last summer to provide urgent help to local restaurants and bars. When outdoor dining was permitted, CaféTO helped hundreds of restaurant and bar operators by making it easier to open patios in curb lanes and along sidewalks, to expand them and to access additional space for physical distancing. The space helped operators generate revenue and enliven nearby public spaces.

In 2020, CaféTO supported 801 restaurants in 62 BIAs, as well as 96 restaurants outside of BIAs. An additional 44 public parklets in BIAs were activated. The 439 curb lane closures converted 9,683 metres of traffic lanes into new outdoor dining space for restaurants.

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 continue to support the economic recovery of the restaurant community. Learn more at https://www.togotoronto.com/

Details about CafeTO, including how to register, are available at http://www.toronto.ca/cafeto.

Quote:

“This year’s CaféTO program will be bigger and better than ever. We are opening registration as early as possible so the program will be up and running in May and ready to help restaurants throughout the summer months. I want to thank City staff for working to bring back this popular program which helped restaurants expand outdoor dining options and protect jobs last year in the wake of the pandemic. I look forward to seeing the CaféTO installations back on our streets again this May.”

– Mayor John Tory

“With the planned improvements to CaféTO, I’m encouraged that more operators across Toronto, and particularly in our suburbs, will benefit from this game-changing program. Through CaféTO, we are once again making public space available on our roadways and sidewalks to help as many restaurant and bar operators as possible.”

– Councillor Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough-Rouge Park), Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee

“CaféTO helped hundreds of Toronto restaurants weather the onslaught of Covid-19 last year. In fact, many restauranteurs believe that without CaféTO, their restaurants would no longer be financially viable. I am confident that our planned enhancements and improvements to the program will enable the entire restaurant industry to open safely and generate sustainable revenues in the months ahead.”

– Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee