Pa­tio power

Op­tions to drink and dine out­doors in Char­lot­te­town keep grow­ing

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JIM DAY

A warm, sunny Thurs­day proved the per­fect day for Lisa Gal­lant to hit the deck.

Gal­lant, who de­scribes her age as “crack­ing 40’’, started her deck day at Re­ceiver Cof­fee on Vic­to­ria Row in Char­lot­te­town for a hot Cup of Joe and break­fast.

For lunch, she then trav­elled a short dis­tance along Vic­to­ria Row, scaled sev­eral flights of stairs and parked her­self in a swing­ing wicker chair on the rooftop deck of Fishies on the Roof.

Gal­lant, a na­tive Is­lan­der who has lived in Min­nesota for about eight years, en­joyed a glass of white wine as she waited for friends to join her for lunch.

She an­tic­i­pated be­ing on yet an­other deck come evening, per­haps Peakes Quay Restau­rant & Bar where she could drink in the sooth­ing view of boats float­ing in the har­bor while en­joy­ing mus­sels and a bev­er­age.

Gal­lant, like many lo­cals and tourists, is thrilled with the grow­ing num­ber of decks in Char­lot­te­town where peo­ple can drink, dine or just sip a cof­fee or tea.

“I love it,’’ she says. “I love the am­biance…I love pa­tios.’’

There is no shortage of pa­tio decks in the cap­i­tal city.

Some are as mod­est as a few chairs and a ta­ble.

Oth­ers go big, like the new Mer­chant­man pa­tio com­plete with out­door bar, lawn games and comfy seat­ing.

There are even restau­rant pa­tios float­ing on the wa­ter.

The more the mer­rier, says Kevin Mur­phy, pres­i­dent and CEO of Mur­phy Hos­pi­tal­ity Group, which owns nu­mer­ous prop­er­ties with decks, in­clud­ing Sims Cor­ner Steak­house & Oys­ter Bar, Mer­chant­man and Fish­bones.

“I never think there is too many,’’ he says.

“The peo­ple that do it right and give great ser­vice sur­vive and do well.’’

Mur­phy says pa­tios in Char­lot­te­town have come a long way over in a hand­ful of years, both in num­bers and in qual­ity, and have be­come a key part of the land­scape of the restau­rant in­dus­try.

“At the end of the day our sea­son is rel­a­tively short,’’ he adds. “It gives us that lit­tle ex­tra ca­pac­ity to do ex­tra busi­ness.’’

The Mur­phy Hos­pi­tal­ity Group was the first busi­ness to look sky­ward for a pa­tio. Fishies on the Roof is in its third sum­mer serv­ing drinks and food up on a roof.

“That was a ma­jor in­vest­ment into a prod­uct,’’ says Mur­phy.

“It is a dif­fer­ent space and a dif­fer­ent feel up there.’’

Steve Bar­ber is a co-owner with Ja­cob Hiem­stra of Red Is­land Hos­pi­tal­ity Group Inc. in Char­lot­te­town, which in­cludes Hunter’s Ale House, John Brown Richmond Street Grille, Fac­tory Cook­house and Dance­hall and the Char­lot­te­town Beer Gar­den and Seafood Pa­tio.

All four prop­er­ties have decks, but some are more re­liant on them than the oth­ers.

The Fac­tory, for in­stance, is more of a dance hall and the pa­tio does not draw as well as Hunters next door or the Beer Gar­den across the street.

Bar­ber notes busi­ness at the Beer Gar­den is greatly in­flu­enced by weather.

“If it’s a beau­ti­ful day peo­ple are go­ing to sit out­side at the Beer Gar­den,’’ he notes.

Bar­ber views the large num­ber of busi­nesses in Char­lot­te­town go­ing with decks as cre­at­ing an at­trac­tive over­all prod­uct.

“I love the fact that there are pa­tio decks ev­ery­where,’’ he says.

“It’s a tourist des­ti­na­tion.’’ Two cou­ples vis­it­ing Char­lot­te­town from Louisiana were walk­ing along Vic­to­ria Row Thurs­day dur­ing the lunch hour, heard a live band play­ing jazz, liked the look and feel of the pedes­trian-only street, and de­cided to set­tled down at a ta­ble at John Brown Richmond Street Grille, one of sev­eral pa­tio op­tions along the block.

“The food, the mu­sic and the view,’’ Pa­tri­cian Flournoy says is siz­ing up the ap­peal of Vic­to­ria Row.

Steve Bar­ber, along with Ja­cob Hiem­stra , co-owns Red Is­land Hos­pi­tal­ity Group Inc. in Char­lot­te­town, which in­cludes Hunter’s Ale House, John Brown Richmond Street Grille, Fac­tory Cook­house and Dance­hall, and the Char­lot­te­town Beer Gar­den and Seafood Pa­tio.

Al and Heather Bell of Peter­bor­ough, Ont. looked in no rush to give up their rail-side ta­ble at Peakes Quay over­look­ing the wa­ter.

“The view is nice,’’ ob­serves Al. “This is kind of our scene,’’ adds Heather.

“We like the deck, the sun and look­ing out at the har­bour.’’

Han­nah Mor­gan, 20, of Truro, N.S. was not put off in the least at hav­ing ve­hi­cles driv­ing nearby her ta­ble as she en­joyed lunch Thurs­day with her friend Martha Day, 18, of Char­lot­te­town at the Casa Mia Café over­look­ing Con­fed­er­a­tion Cen­tre of the Arts.

“I just like sit­ting in the sun,’’ says Mor­gan.

“You feel like you are more in­volved in the sum­mery things go­ing on in Char­lot­te­town.’’

Char­lot­te­town Counc. Greg Ri­vard, chair­man of the plan­ning and her­itage com­mit­tee, says the pub­lic sim­ply loves pa­tio decks.

“I think for the short sea­son that they’re open, they’re won­der­ful,’’ says Ri­vard.

“I think if it’s nice out…if there is an op­por­tu­nity to sit out­side and en­joy a meal and take in the scenery, it’s a no brainer.’’

JIM DAY/THE GUARDIAN

Al and Heather Bell of Peter­bor­ough, Ont., en­joy the scenic view of the Char­lot­te­town har­bour from the deck at Peakes Quay Restau­rant and Bar.

JIM DAY/THE GUARDIAN

Paige Larkin pre­pares a drink at the out­door bar of the Mer­chant­man’s new large pa­tio that also fea­tures lawn games.

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