June 30, 2023
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Patio Program Triples Return on Investment for Downtown Kitchener Businesses

Municipality: City of Kitchener
Type: #Food

Patios can help create vibrant and welcoming atmospheres for residents and tourists, encouraging people to linger, reconnect and support local businesses. The patios installed along King Street in downtown Kitchener did just that, and more, generating $3.2 million in total sales over just two seasons, which translates into a return of 3.4 times on the investment.

Installed and improved at over 40 fine dining and casual restaurants, cafés, and public spaces throughout the street, these patios boosted capacity for local businesses while offsetting their upfront costs.

The Downtown Kitchener (DTK) Patio Program was funded by the My Main Street (MMS) Community Activator Program, as part of the Government of Canada’s $23.25-million investment in My Main Street through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI). The shared mission was to help main street businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. My Main Street added $250,000 to the Downtown Kitchener BIA’s investment of $683,000 via local business levies, helping the BIA furnish, beautify and install patios.

Kitchener - Downtown Kitchener (City Centre & Innovation Districts)

The Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) conducted a study to analyze which My Main Street Community Activator programs had the strongest impacts. By analyzing credit card and Interac payment data from Moneris and footfall data from Environics Analytics, CUI found that the patio program achieved the following:

  • Throughout the summers of 2021 and 2022, evening foot traffic rebounded nearly 40 percent from 2020 levels,
  • Businesses in downtown Kitchener brought in an estimated $37 million in credit card and Interac sales, of which $3.2 million or nine percent was a direct result of the patio program.

“The patio structures were custom built for our streetscape to include coverings overhead for sun and rain, and more functional furniture and comfortable seating,” says Linda Jutzi, Executive Director of the Downtown Kitchener BIA. “This investment served as a recovery program for the entire district. The patios became a beautification project for downtown Kitchener as they created a professional and attractive look to our streets.”

Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic credits the patio program, and the partnerships developed because of it, as being critical to helping restaurants and residents recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For many of our local restaurants, the patio expansion program, made possible in part by the My Main Street Community Activator Program, helped install new and expanded patios to support our hospitality operators at a very challenging time,” says Vrbanovic.

“The partnership with the Government of Canada, our local Kitchener Downtown BIA and the City, through our expedited approvals and an extended patio season, all helped to support both these local businesses who were impacted significantly and our residents who wanted to safely re-connect with friends and family in a social setting.”

Sugar Run, a local rum bar, was just one of many businesses that benefitted. The bar had no patio before the program, and the restaurant lost most of its business during the pandemic. The owner, Kypp Saunders, had this to say: “We cannot thank the Kitchener Downtown BIA enough for the efforts made to create a patio space for Sugar Run. The BIA was tremendous in creating an amazing space for our guests to enjoy.”

About My Main Street

My Main Street is a $23.25-million Government of Canada investment through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) to support the recovery and revitalization of main streets and local businesses in southern Ontario. The Canadian Urban Institute and the Economic Developers Council of Ontario have partnered to deliver My Main Street through two program streams. Learn more at www.mymainstreet.ca.

About FedDev Ontario

For 13 years, the Government of Canada, through FedDev Ontario, has worked to advance and diversify the southern Ontario economy through funding opportunities and business services that support innovation, growth and job creation in Canada’s most populous region. The Agency has delivered impressive results, which can be seen in southern Ontario businesses that are creating innovative technologies, improving productivity, growing revenues, creating jobs, and in the economic advancement of communities across the region. Learn more about the impacts the Agency is having in southern Ontario by exploring our pivotal projects, our Southern Ontario Spotlight, and FedDev Ontario’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Photo Credits: Liam Good 2021


My Main Street is operated by the Canadian Urban Institute and funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

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