Pop-up patio approved for Test Kitchen

Test Kitchen's pop-up patio is a one-year pilot project to help animate the street.
Test Kitchen’s pop-up patio is a one-year pilot project to help animate the street.

Residents will notice a patio in front of Test Kitchen on Brant Street.

The patio is part of a one-year pilot project to animate Brant Street and will be reviewed before proceeding next year. Seventeen locations were eligible to participate; some are ineligible based on proximity to intersections or other criteria. Test Kitchen was the only eligible restaurant that expressed interest in participating. They are paying a premium rate for the use of the parking spaces for the patio. One of the conditions of proceeding with the project was that the sidewalk remain open for pedestrians.

Jody Wellings, the city’s Special Business Area Coordinator, led the project, with assistance from Brian Dean, of the Burlington Downtown Business Association. Jody extensively researched pop-ups patios. According to her research, the first pop-ups appeared in San Francisco a number of years ago, and have been extensively done there and in New York City.  In Ontario, pop-ups in various forms have been done recently (and successfully) in St. Catherine’s, Barrie, Port Credit and downtown Oakville.

For Burlington, the design is based on research and safety standards developed by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO).  Here’s a link to their website with more great ideas:

NACTO Design Strategies – Parklets

In preparing the pilot, the city adapted the design standards and consulted with the Accessibility Advisory Committee, the Downtown Parking Advisory Committee and City departments to ensure that the design meets everyone’s needs.

As in any pilot project, staff will be monitoring to identify any issues that emerge and will be reporting to Council in advance of next summer with recommendations on whether to continue, enhance or withdraw the program.  The City has recently retained a consultant to update our streetscape guidelines – the standards for sidewalks, lighting, planting and street furniture etc.  The consultants have also been asked to review the question of sidewalk and pop-up patios as well.  That will be a public process, so residents will have the chance to provide your comments on this and any other aspect of streetscape in the downtown.

The pilot pop-up patio was approved without opposition by the Development & Infrastructure Committee of Council on May 11; the recommendation goes to City Council May 25 for final ratification.

You can register as a delegation to speak to this item here:

Register as a Delegation

Read the staff report on this item here:

D&I May 11 – Item #13

My Take:

I fully support this pilot project as a way to provide additional animation to our streets. Judging by attendance this past weekend, the patio is also a hit with residents. The design of the patio keeps access to sidewalks fully open, and the restaurant is paying for the use of the parking spaces. The project has been vetted by our legal, parking, transportation and other departments to ensure a successful project that minimizes any risks to the public.

Your Take:

What are your thoughts on the pop-up patio? Should there be more? Leave a comment below.

Written by Marianne Meed Ward

A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made.

As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington.

The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful.

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  1. I think the pop up patio is an attractive addition to Brant Street. When we were there, the restaurant was empty also. But we wouldn’t have eaten there if they didn’t have outdoor seating. So – mission accomplished.

  2. Let’s just close Brant Street south of Caroline to accommodate more outdoor patios and encourage pedestrian activity in the street. If Ottawa can successfully turn downtown Sparks Street into a pedestrian mall, Burlington should be able to do that too all year round. No matter what is decided in the intensification process, keeping the core Pedestrian Friendly should be the key driving force.

    • I agree with you Glynis. My husband and I have seen many cities successful turn major streets into pedestrian precincts

  3. I’m just waiting for the day when someone slams into the side of this “street” outdoor patio just like what happened to the young students who were tending to the City gardens on the median a few weeks ago. Let’s hope there is adequate insurance coverage for all involved. I mean, who really wants to sit on the street eating lunch, while City buses, motorcycles and cars drive by within a few feet of you. The traffic noise alone is enough to deter some people. I would rather sit on one of the other “off street” downtown patios such as The Martini House, Spencer’s on the Waterfront, Paradiso, etc. Although the revenue for these parking spaces is being paid by Test Kitchen, parking spaces on Brant Street are at a premium. You also need to consider that these two premium spaces were used by customers who shop, eat and do business with other retailers on the street, possibly taking away from their revenue.

  4. Do not agree with giving up two prime parking spots when parking is at a premium most times in downtown. It would be better to have these patios in the rear of the establishment

  5. Patio is OK but I believe it should have been built right up to the the door of the restaurant and extended the sidewalk around the outside of the patio so that there isn’t anything in the way of people walking on the sidewalk. Also as a patron of the restaurant I wouldn’t like sitting next to vehicle fumes, road noise and have also have an appropriate area for people who smoke so as not to hinder people walking and those who don’t smoke.

  6. I think that this is a great idea. We should also have similar pop ups at the Village Square for stores.
    We need all we can do to revitalize our downtown.

  7. I too was impressed to discover the pop-up patio this past weekend. While our calendar was far too busy for me to consider venturing in, I was instantly grabbed by the charm and atmosphere. I hope it delivers the results expected for Test Kitchen, glad to see Alex innovating as he knows best!!

  8. I think this is a good idea except that it doesn’t fit in the space. I would think it is downright dangerous to be sitting right on the road. Oakville has a similar thing but they have much more room and the people are not right on the road like this. I drove by this evening in the dusk and it is difficult to even see it. I agree with another poster who says she wouldn’t want to sit on the road sucking in car exhaust and hoping a distracted driver doesn’t bowl them over. I also really wonder what the businesses around this restaurant think of losing two prime parking spots right in front that they benefit from and now have lost.

  9. Why is this even a debate? Patios and outside seating at restaurants are the norm outside of ass backwards North America.

  10. I think this a GREAT ideal!! Halifax has had such patio installations for years and years and I always wondered why more cities didn’t follow suit. Good work Burlington City Council!!

  11. We love the feel of a downtown pedestrian mall. Brant south of Caroline should be closed off more often to permit this. I do agree with Kevin on the need to situate more pedestrian-friendly businesses in this area for such events but how do you do that?
    I love the civic square music concerts too. The City is moving in the right direction downtown.

  12. I’m in favour of the experiment, and my only objection is minor. The Test Kitchen has such a sleek and modern interior, but the patio is rough and rustic! I’d like a more harmonious inside/outside appearance. Streetscape is important.

  13. It is certainly an improvement over the multitude of tables, chairs, sandwich boards and umbrellas which clutter the west side of Brant between Maria and Caroline. I would hazard a guess that the proponent of Buskers on Brant does not live in the area.

    • What, Betty? You didn’t give us much to think about at all, other than that you don’t like Test Kitchen. I don’t like mixing food with exhaust either, though. I would try it if there were no cars going by.

  14. Vince Volpe
    It was a pleasant surprise to see this when walking on Brant street and I’m sure the owners and their clients will appreciate this during the busy summer months. I’m looking forward to more because it feels like I’m away in Australia or Europe! Good Job……….

  15. I have to question the safety of having people sitting in the road. The patio is very attractive. I went for lunch with a friend ( we ate inside) and noticed that while the patio was busy the restaurant was empty. If the purpose was to attract more patrons it wasn’t working yesterday. I personally would not sit in the road with the exhaust from cars and buses passing by. Also while the patio does not infringe on the sidewalk, the servers will be walking back and forth from the restaurant to the patio to bring drinks, meals etc.

    I really like Test Kitchen and I hope that this works for them.

  16. I like the new pop up patio and would like to see more of this type of activity in the core. I would also like to see a live music venue set up closer to the street. Busker style would work. We often see someone on the peer or at the no frills plaza. Why not have a place for these folks to set up and encourage a Fri. night busker fest in the summers? 1 hour per group. Sign up at city hall . Closer to the street than tucked way in from the street action at city hall. I know we have done something similar on corner of Elgin and Brant but why close down that section of the street? Also so glad we are getting back a little movie theatre. Burlington seems to becoming a more happening place.

  17. I think it is a great idea to get more pedestrian traffic on Brant Street. I would put large signs on the north and south sides of the patio to warn cars, if there are no parked cars blocking passage. May avoid a bad accident!

    I find that there are too many businesses on Brant that are not interesting for pedestrians to visit (i.e legal offices, etc…). Can the street be zoned, in some way, for businesses that will be interesting to visit on a Sunday afternoon stroll? Also… business hours. Quite often want to visit a store only to find out it is closed outside of regular work hours (i.e on a Thursday or Friday night… or on the weekend). Also… Have always heard that rents are very high on Brant… can Burlington subsidize small business to attract them to Brant?

    On another topic… I was cycling on Saturday and noticed that the cycling path marking are totally unreadable on the boardwalk (and other areas). This is Very Dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians, as bicycles try to weave in and around people who are walking on the bike path. Thanks…

    And… just wondering why the speed signs put up on Drury Lane are already down… they were doing a noticeable job slowing traffic down ! I suggest putting up new signs which, in place of speed, show the applicable fine as motorists speed down Drury Lane ! It is getting worse !


    • Hi Kevin,

      Even when the boardwalk cycle path was clearly marked it was not respected. I don’t think that’s the right place for a bike lane. People do not seem to care. Improving the demarcation will not help here.

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