Dining at a restaurant is a luxury many of us missed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Luckily, the City’s rapid response to the economic impacts of the pandemic helped expand outdoor dining options through the Beautification & Patio Grant, while serving the greater purpose of helping local businesses through a difficult time and directly stimulating economic activity.
Since launching in the summer of 2020, 25 local businesses have accessed the Grant.
It pays 50% of eligible costs, up to a maximum of $15,000 for Façade improvements, Landscaping and Patio projects that improve aesthetic appeal, pedestrian access and safety of a commercial, retail or mixed-use building to successful applicants.
Businesses in the food and beverage industry like Pho One Vietnamese Cuisine (Pho One), Grain Bin Brewing Company and Jax Grill & Lounge, accessed the Beautification & Patio Grant that provided support for their businesses amid restrictions with dine-in offerings. Among these three examples, each had short-term and long-term benefits to the improvements made to their businesses.
Pho One, redeveloped its patio to beautify the outdoor space and increase its capacity by an additional 40 seats.
“It’s an improvement for our business. [We added] a lot of greenery, nice picnic tables, glass panels and new lights,” Goinden, owner of Pho One said.
The improvements being a short-term need to continue business operations beyond take-out orders, now resulting in further benefiting the business in the long term.
“We have seen an increase in sales, mostly our drinks. It is nice to hear [customers] say that we have a nice patio and that it is a place where they can sit and have a beer,” he said.
Pho One plans to expand their business by hiring more staff and expanding their menu.
“We have been very grateful for all our regular customers. [They were] always here even during the pandemic, even when [we couldn’t] have a seating capacity.”
Located on the west end, Grain Bin Brewing Company successfully applied for the Beautification & Patio Grant to transform their gravel yard into a space that was more accessible, that could accommodate customers outdoors and provide space to hold events.
“We found that it was a great experience to be able to do something that not only fit our needs but also improved the value of the location, and also meet all the City’s requirements,” Dalen, one of the owners of Grain Bin Brewing Company said.
Grain Bin Brewing Company’s upgrades included new fencing, paving the gravel yard, adding an outdoor structure and an art mural.
“A lot of people are surprised when they see, what we think is an awesome patio, in the middle of the industrial park,” he said.
Grain Bin Brewing Company discovered that there is a longer-term benefit and a broader impact of the improvements they made to the property.
“We do find that the community is using the patio for shows, concerts, [hosting] food trucks or art shows. The patio has not only improved our business but has made it more welcoming for the community to be involved in as well,” Dalen said.
In addition to collaborating with the community, Grain Bin Brewing Company was also able to hire more staff because of their increased capacity from 40 seats to 200.
“We were able to hire more staff, because we have more seats available. We can be busier and therefore hire more local people to work for us as well.”
Jax Grill & Lounge, located in the Podollan Inn & Spa, didn’t have a patio prior to accessing the Beautification & Patio Grant.
“May 2021 was a major break for us when the government allowed us to have outdoor seating. At [that] time, a lot of restaurants were doing temporary patios. And we decided to make a permanent structure,” Harry, the General Manager at Podollan Inn and Spa, said.
The improvements included a brand-new patio structure, tables and greenery, inspired by a European design.
“We are just getting raving reviews about the flowers, how we beautified the entrance area it's just a [positive] response,” he said.
Looking to the future, Jax Grill & Lounge has ideas of how they can offer more in their outdoor dining space to attract customers.
The City of Grande Prairie is still accepting applications for the Beautification & Patio Grant. Please visit our Beautification & Patio page to see if your business is eligible.