Two restaurants in Comox are working together to help ease the burden of the increased COVID public dining restrictions.
The Tidal Café (146 Port Augusta St.) and Toscano’s Mediterranean Grill (140 Port Augusta St.) are next-door neighbours.
When Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the stoppage of indoor dining as part of the province’s “circuit breaker” strategy, Tidal Café owners Kurt and Blythe Reimer, and Toscano’s head chef and general manager, Tristan Taylor, joined forces for a mutually beneficial arrangement.
“It was a couple of days after the new regulations came into play, Blythe and Kurt came and said ‘how about we share patios, to get a few extra seats?” I thought it was a great idea,” said Taylor.
Both restaurants have small patios for outdoor dining. The Tidal Café is a breakfast/lunch outlet, while Toscano’s is a dinner restaurant, so their schedules do not clash, which made the collaboration easy.
The arrangement has worked well for both businesses, and has been extremely beneficial to Toscano’s, which has the smaller of the two patios.
The two businesses are not related in any fashion, and the only affiliation they share is the same landlord.
Kurt said they approached their landlord who was OK with it, and insurance simply asked that both parties sign a waiver.
“We did tell our landlords, because they own the whole building, and they said it sounds like a win-win proposal,” said Kurt. “As far as insurance, she said … as long as we are doing our normal operations, anything within the scope of that normal operation is completely covered.”
With additional spacing in place to comply with COVID public health orders, Toscano’s only has a couple of four-seat tables available.
The Tidal has space for four tables.
“One evening last weekend, they sat nine (parties) over the course of the evening on our (patio),” said Kurt.
“It filled up pretty good,” said Taylor. “I can sit six tables now, instead of just two, so it’s great.”
There is one slight drawback.
“The only thing that doesn’t work, and that’s probably more to their disadvantage than ours, is that the liquor licences can’t cross, so sadly, I think it’s a crime to have pasta without red wine, so people will have to sit on our patio, eating their great food, without the wine to complement it,” said Kurt.
“We just let our customers know that they cannot consume liquor on that side, but most customers have been pretty understanding about that,” said Taylor.
Kurt said the arrangement has paid off for both businesses.
“Necessity is the mother of all invention, so we thought OK, we kind of have to do this,” he said. “It’s worked out really well so far.”
Taylor said the bonus is it has helped him get to know his neighbours that much better.
“They are super friendly people, easy to get along with, and really understanding. Overall this arrangement is just a great ‘community-first’ vibe,” he said.