Meet me on Bernard welcomed by restaurants

Meet me on Bernard open

Kelowna's Meet me on Bernard is officially open, so Castanet walked the pedestrian-only street on Friday to get a reaction from local businesses.

Memphis Blues owner Andre Thomas believes Meet me on Bernard is the silver lining of the pandemic.

“There were a lot of setbacks during that time, but this was one of the positives that we were able to extend our patio onto Bernard and just bring more people out, make it more family-friendly, make it more interactive, make it more fun for people walking downtown, and it doubles the capacity of our restaurant,” said Thomas.

While Leopold's Tavern didn't exist in Kelowna during the pandemic, they're still happy with what Meet me on Bernard brings to their business and to the people trying to enjoy life in the downtown core.

“It’s just a really cool and interesting opportunity that a lot of cities can’t offer, so it’s just really nice to see that the City of Kelowna has allowed it and given the space for it made it relatively affordable for most of the businesses as well, so I’m just super stoked to see what happens," said Leopold’s manager Bukhosi Mabaleka.

Everyone loves a good meal on a breezy summer day in the Okanagan, especially when it comes to eating brunch at Sunny's Modern Diner, extended out into Bernard Ave. for a better view of all the downtown action.

“In the sunshine it’s amazing and it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to start in May this year rather than in July,” said Sunny's manager Robyn Sigureson.

“There’s such a difference. When you sit on our patio, you’re sitting there facing the water, it’s incredible, you’re watching all the passerbyers on their bikes, walking their dog, walking with family. And it’s just incredible to be able to sit there and enjoy the amazing Okanagan for tourists and locals alike.”

While most businesses are thrilled about what Meet me on Bernard provides in terms of expanding business, some are worried about the potential of wildfire season later this summer.

“Unfortunately, last year the forest fires did wreak havoc on our season at the end of August and also for September and the rest of the fall, so we are really hoping this year that with the extended patio again will make up some ground and we will have a good season,” said Thomas.

Brad Filleul, owner of Cantina Del Centro adds, “With the fires in August last year, that really affected us big time and kind of shut the whole thing down, so you never really know what you’re going to get this year."

"With the early opening in May, it gives us the opportunity for more business before we potentially get shutdown in August for wildfires, so it’s nice to have the long season.”

The 200 block of Bernard Avenue is now pedestrian-only with the 300 block closing to vehicle traffic on the Canada Day long weekend. Both blocks will then remain pedestrian-only until Labour Day.

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