Corrin Lotz, general manager of the Dirty Northern Public House, mans the hand sanitizing station outside the restaurant in Whitehorse on May 29. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Many continue to opt for take-out as dining rooms reopen

City considers options for more patio space

As some local restaurants begin welcoming guests for dine-in services, a few restaurant owners are asking the City of Whitehorse to allow sidewalks and parking lots to be used for additional seating.

At Whitehorse city council’s June 1 meeting, submissions from Dirty Northern Public House/Miner’s Daughter owner Katja Schmidt and Wayfarer Oyster House owner Eddie Rideout were read into the record (in-person delegations to council are not currently happening due to COVID-19) asking about the possibility.

While dine-in restaurants can once again operate, there are a number of public health guidelines that must be met.

Among them are plans that must be approved and seating capacity at 50 per cent of the maximum prior to the pandemic. There’s also a requirement for seating to be arranged for physical distancing of six feet, which means that in some cases maximum seating is at less than 50 per cent.

In each of their submissions, Schmidt and Rideout noted a number of municipalities across the country are making changes to allow restaurants more space for outdoor seating while physically distancing.

Among them are pop-up patios, street closures and sidewalk space being made available for outdoor food services.

Schmidt pointed out that with a lack of tourists this year, there’s not likely to be the high demand on parking that there normally is. She suggested a portion of Main Street could be closed off to accommodate more restaurant seating that meets distancing guidelines.

Troy King, owner of Wood Street Ramen, poses for a photo in the restaurant’s small dining area in Whitehorse on June 2. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Rideout, meanwhile, asked that the Wayfarer be able to use city-owned space next to the restaurant that is currently used for parking.

Each encouraged the city to look at possible solutions that would assist restaurants working to recover in the midst of COVID-19.

Rideout also asked that any associated fees be waived.

While there are provisions that allow for sidewalk use by restaurants (and there are some cases where seating is provided on sidewalks) or outside restaurants, Mike Gau, the city’s director of development services, said these are considered on a case-by-case basis.

In the case of moving seating into parking areas on the street, the city would have to go through the Motor Vehicles Act with the Yukon government.

A number of city councillors voiced their support for city staff considering possibilities for outside restaurant seating that could be provided for quickly.

As Coun. Steve Roddick pointed out the summer season is short so a solution should be found quickly.

“What are the barriers moving forward,” he asked, highlighting the issues around the Motor Vehicles Act as well as ensuring accessibility.

“I guess I’m just looking for are there solutions here,” he said. “Are there ways we can make this work on a pilot project basis.”

Coun. Laura Cabott said she’s heard from a number of residents interested in making such changes.

“There is a real interest in this,” she said.

Other council members agreed they wanted city staff to look at the possibilities and report back on what might be done for the 2020 summer season.

City manager Linda Rapp said the city will look at all restaurant services as it considers the matter, including those that may not be able to expand patio space onto a sidewalk.

“I think we would want to take a look at it as a whole and see how we could recommend some options potentially to address it,” she said.

In the meantime, local restaurants are working to adapt to a new way of doing business.

Many have been offering take-out and delivery since COVID-19 closed many services in the territory.

The Wood Street Ramen deck is under construction for customers to eat on because the inside dining area is too small to adhere to the six foot rule in Whitehorse on June 2. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

While some reopened for dine-in services May 29, a quick search of Facebook shows others have set dates later in June to reopen their dining rooms.

Troy King at Wood Street Ramen said June 1 the restaurant may not reopen its dining room, but is rebuilding the patio as a place for people to sit outside.

“We will not be providing table service,” he stated in a June 1 email. “We will police it and clean it to ensure the safety of us and our guests.”

When restaurants were initially closed with the exception of take-out and delivery, King said the ramen house was closed for two weeks while work was done to “revamp everything.”

“We weren’t going down without a fight,” he said, adding work was done to figure out how to turn what was then eat-in only options to takeout options.

No full-time staff was laid off as the restaurant worked to adapt to the major changes they were faced with.

That meant also building an online ordering option, a process that was difficult in the beginning but is now fairly easy to with customers ordering and paying online before they come in and pick up their order that’s set on a table waiting when they come in. They can then grab it and head out the side door.

As King pointed out the changes that were made to accommodate take out orders took away much of seating space.

“The way we have everything set up, you come in the front door and leave threw the side door,” he stated. “That ‘path’ through the shop takes away 90 per cent of the seating.

“Along with the new patio we are adding a extra work space to increase the menu offering we currently have; we also carry Smoke and Sow southern style barbecue and Yukon Chocolate Factory in our online store. I’m trying to help out some other small shops in town. Also give the customers lots of choices.”

While the ramen shop has learned to operate in the post-COVID era with takeout offerings, King said staff really do miss their guests and are hoping things can go back to normal in the next year or so.

Boston Pizza reopened its dining room on the weekend with manager Gerry Brandt noting the restaurant was probably at 35 to 40 per cent capacity during the peak periods.

Customers seemed pleased to be dining-in and staff were able to follow the new protocols in place.

“It was very positive,” he said.

Meanwhile, John Laffra, Northern Vision Development’s food and beverage manager, said many were pleased to dine in again at Earls.

A number of local restaurants are outlining plans on social media to reopen their dining rooms or patios later in June.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at


Just Posted

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley has announced 30 new COVID-19 cases on June 21 for a total of 100 active cases. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon experiencing community spread among unvaccinated: Hanley

Territory logs 30 new cases on June 21, for a total of 68 new cases this weekend

Lorraine Kuhn is seen with one of the many volleyball teams she coached. (Photo submitted by Sport Yukon)
The Yukon Sports Hall of Fame inducts the late Lorraine Kuhn

Lorraine Kuhn became the newest member of the Yukon Sports Hall of Fame for her work in growing volleyball amongst other sports

File Photo
A Yukon judge approved dangerous offender status for a man guilty of a string of assaults in 2020.
Yukon judge sentences dangerous offender to indefinite prison term

Herman Peter Thorn, 51, was given the sentence for 2020 assaults, history of violence

Crystal Schick/ Yukon News A former residential school in the Kaska Dena community of Lower Post will be demolished on June 21. Crystal Schick/ Yukon News
Lower Post residential school demolition postponed

On June 21, the old residential school in Lower Post will be demolished and new ground on a multi-cultural centre will be broken

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley announced 29 new COVID-19 cases on June 19 and community transmission among unvaccinated individuals. (Yukon News file)
Yukon logs record-high 29 new COVID-19 cases

F.H. Collins prom attendees and some Porter Creek Grade 9 students are instructed to self-isolate as community transmission sweeps through unvaccinated populations

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its June 14 meeting

Murray Arsenault sits in the drivers seat of his 1975 Bricklin SV1 in Whitehorse on June 16. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Bringing the 1975 Bricklin north

Murray Arsenault remembers his dad’s Bricklin, while now driving his own

A presumptive COVID case was found at Seabridge Gold’s 3 Aces project. (file photo)
Presumptive COVID-19 case reported at mine in southeast Yukon

A rapid antigen rest found a presumptive COVID case on an incoming individual arriving at the 3Aces project

Jonathan Antoine/Cabin Radio
Flooding in Fort Simpson on May 8.
Fort Simpson asked for military help. Two people showed up.

FORT SIMPSON—Residents of a flooded Northwest Territories village expected a helping hand… Continue reading

A woman was rescued from the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Alaska on June 16. (Photo courtesy/AllTrails)
Alaska hiker chased off trail by bears flags down help

ANCHORAGE (AP)—An Alaska hiker who reported needing help following bear encounters on… Continue reading

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq rises in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Unacceptable’ that Inuk MP felt unsafe in House of Commons, Miller says

OTTAWA—It’s a “sad reflection” on Canada that an Inuk MP feels she’s… Continue reading

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

Most Read