Driver destroys CafeTO patio used by 2 restaurants on Queen Street West

A driver has destroyed a temporary patio used by two Toronto restaurants on Queen Street West and the early morning crash is raising questions about the safety of the city’s CafeTO program.

Toronto police have charged the motorist with careless driving and driving without a licence.

Nobody was hurt in the crash that happened at about 3:45 a.m. on Monday west of Dufferin Street. But the impact left debris and damaged tables and chairs.

The CafeTO patio is used by Chantecler and Guu Izakaya restaurants. 

Security camera footage, which shows the moment a car ploughed through the patio, has caught the attention of Toronto Mayor John Tory.

Watch | CBC’s Greg Ross reports on a crash that destroyed the CafeTO patio of two Toronto restaurants.

CBC’s Greg Ross reports on an early morning crash that destroyed a temporary patio used by two Toronto restaurants. The west end crash raises questions about the safety of the city’s CafeTO program. 2:07

Tory noted that the crash is an “almost one of a kind” incident, saying such incidents are “very few and far between,” but he said safety was a major consideration when the CafeTO program was designed to help restaurants survive the pandemic.

Staff were mindful of safety when they decided which lanes of traffic would be closed to traffic to make way for patios, he said.

“Thank goodness that collision took place at a time when the patio was not occupied. It took place in the wee hours of the morning,” Tory said.

City staff will look at the program’s safety record when they review the program for consideration next year, the mayor added.

“We did this at a time when we knew the traffic levels were also diminished because of COVID-19, and obviously I think the safety record has been good, but the safety record is something we’re going to have to take a look as we reconsider the question of whether we’re going to do it again next year,” Tory said.

“I want to do it again next year. The restaurant and bar business is struggling,” he said.

CBC Toronto reporter Greg Ross talks to Jacob Wharton-Shukster, owner of Chantecler restaurant, about the crash that destroyed a patio on Queen Street West near Dufferin Street early Monday. (CBC)

Restaurant owners relieved patio empty at time of crash

Jacob Wharton-Shukster, owner of Chantecler Restaurant, said fortunately the patio was empty at the time.

“Well, it’s obviously terrifying. We’re just happy that it happened at 3:45 in the morning instead at a different time.”

He said it’s disturbing to watch the crash on video.

“The driver seems to miss the barricade and come in driving, I don’t know, it looks about 40 or 50 kilometres an hour, clear through, pushing all the debris up to the side here,” he said. 

Masaru Ogasawara, owner and chef of Guu Izakaya restaurant, said the patio has been a lifeline for his restaurant, which has been struggling.

“We want to survive this pandemic with this patio, but we’re not sure that we will rebuild this patio again or not. Our customers and our staff safety is our priority.”

Most of his tables and chairs were destroyed.

“I can’t imagine if our customers were eating or dining here.”

Masaru Ogasawara, owner and chef of Guu Izakaya restaurant, says the patio has been a lifeline. He says his business has been struggling because of the pandemic, but he is not sure if the restaurant will rebuild the patio. (CBC)

CBC | Toronto News

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