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The joy of spring arrives on sidewalk cafés

The glorious weather has forced the city to reveal its most impressive asset — the sidewalk café.

The glorious weather has forced the city to reveal its most impressive asset — the sidewalk café.


I watched it unfold this week on comfortable Baldwin Street, halfway between the hospitals on University Avenue and the lively crowds of Spadina’s Chinatown.


As the weather began warming Tuesday, a few restaurants put out chairs, and some were occupied by hardy souls. On Wednesday at lunch, with full sun and temperatures in the middle teens, the patios on the sunny side of the street were packed. There were even a few folks in the shadows on the south side, all bundled up.


By the end of the day, the sun was flooding both sides of the street and the patios did brisk business. As the good weather continued Thursday, this stretch of Baldwin Street was humming.


People love eating and drinking outside. I can see the attraction: Open and free air and the large expansive room that the whole street becomes are persuasive factors.


More important is the sense we all have in sidewalk cafés that we are being watched and probably admired. You want to look your best. The outdoor café puts us on display to those walking by, as evidenced by the many smiles and good humoured ambience.


It’s a pity so much of our city is built at such low densities and its roadways are so dominated by moving vehicles that sidewalk cafés don’t work in the suburbs. But those folk at least have the option of coming to the older parts of the city for this most urban of the pleasures.


Sipping coffee or beer in some shaft of sunlight, one smiles to oneself. It’s hard not to imagine for a short moment that we are sitting in some European city eating a delicate pastry for a brief interlude, transported from the daily Toronto grind.


This is the joy of spring arriving, the sidewalk café. It’s the official notice of good times coming, and balmy air.