December 6, 2019

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The Forks goes big on licensed outdoor patio

Construction is underway on a large, licensed, patio-like space at The Forks, the organization announced Wednesday.

"Patio season in Winnipeg is a sacred thing," The Forks chief executive officer Paul Jordan in a statement. "We will now be able to offer an outdoor area for dining and socializing like none other in the city."

The Common, an indoor bar and communal area at The Forks historic site in downtown Winnipeg, will expand outside in time for summer.

The Common's outdoor space will include the entire plaza area between the market and Johnston Terminal.

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The Common's outdoor space will include the entire plaza area between the market and Johnston Terminal.

Plans include a bar, with 40 taps for beer and wine, just off The Forks Market atrium. A dining table and a fireside lounge will occupy the space that was formerly the Beachcomber restaurant. Large communal "harvest" tables will occupy the area just south of the circular canopy. All together, the area will seat 250.

The space will include the entire plaza area between the market and Johnston Terminal, including the circular canopy. Planters and signage will denote which area alcoholic beverages are permitted (this will not include the Johnston Terminal).

"As far as we know, this is the first of its kind in the province, possibly even the country," Jordan said. "You will be able to buy a beer inside or outside and wander both spaces freely. It’s a great next step that builds on the success of the Common."

“You will be able to buy a beer inside or outside and wander both spaces freely."

The plaza area will still be open to everyone visiting The Forks. People won't be required to buy a beverage to walk through or enjoy the seating and the view of the rivers.

"It's a continuation of our mission and our vision, which is to be a meeting place," Clare MacKay, vice-president of strategic initiatives, told the Free Press. "This just gives us another way to do that."

There's no set date for when the patio will open.

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There's no set date for when the patio will open.

MacKay said plans for the outdoor Common came together quickly after two restaurants left The Forks in the fall.

"If you build a place for locals, tourists follow," she said. "We've built this place for locals."

Muddy Waters closed in September 2018, and the Beachcomber closed in late October. Both had patios.

In November, Chelsea Thomson, manager of marketing and communications, told the Free Press there were yet had no plans for the space.

MacKay said there's no set date for when the outdoor Common will open, but it will be in time for summer: "As soon as it's done."

geralyn.wichers@freepress.mb.ca

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