Wayne Gretzky’s Restaurant on Blue Jays Way in Toronto is no ordinary sports bar.

Sure, when there’s a big game, the bar’s packed with fans. And the walls are lined with sports memorabilia, mostly from Gretzky’s legendary career.

But the menu features salade Niçoise with sashimi-grade tuna, and bison steaks served with wild mushrooms. The decor is more “high class homey” than “down home sporty.”

So when Gretzky’s decided to convert their 3,500-square-foot roof into a patio, they had to provide guests the same high-end service they were used to in the main restaurant.

Keeping patrons comfortable—even when it’s chilly

Two problems cropped up almost immediately: how to keep patrons comfortable in Toronto’s up-and-down summer temperatures, and how to deal with the city’s all-too-short patio season.

Restaurant staff noticed that, even during the dog days of summer, temperatures on the patio could get uncomfortably cold once the sun went down—which meant that patrons couldn’t take full advantage of prime patio time without shivering.

Plus, the patio was really only usable three months of the year—a serious waste of space what had been a hefty investment.

Two problems, one solution

Luckily, both problems were solved with one energy-efficient upgrade.

One year after opening the patio, Gretzky’s installed nine gas-fired infrared patio heaters—allowing patrons to enjoy the patio long after the sun went down.”Now they’re comfortable staying until 11 or later—sometimes even until two [closing],” says Daphne Hunter, the restaurant’s general manager.

And not only can patrons stay later into the night and stay comfortable, they can enjoy the patio more days of the year.

Judging from reviews posted by customers, which include comments like “flawless summer rooftop patio,” “it’s even more awesome upstairs on their patio” and “one of the most interesting views of any patio found in the city,” they’re doing exactly that.

Image credit: slgckgc