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The Globe and Mail

Up on the roof: restaurants expand patio season

Retractable roofs are no longer for baseball parks only. OpenAire brings options to the restaurant scene

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With its bright red support beams and exposed bolts, the retractable patio roof at Gusto 101 adds to the industrial feel of the restaurant space that was formerly a Toronto garage at 101 Portland Street. Designed and built by Oakville-based OpenAire Inc., the glass roof is nearly 10 metres wide and 16 metres long when closed.

Jennifer Roberts/The Globe and Mail

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Gusto 101’s glass roof slides back in two sections and takes about eight minutes to create an open-air patio. A historic tire sign plays up the building’s past as a car repair shop. “The restaurants that we’ve worked with are popular places and are always in a need of expanding their spaces,’’ says Mark Albertine, president of OpenAire Inc. “People want to come to those places and usually prefer the patio seats since it’s brighter and gives an outside feeling even in winter.”

Jennifer Roberts/The Globe and Mail

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The walls around the main-floor bar – the former repair bay – are decorated with vintage licence plates, auto accessories and oil cans. “I think when people come here they really appreciate that authenticity,” restaurant owner Janet Zuccarini says. The downstairs space seats 90 diners and about the same number can now be accommodated on the top patio. The space has just won an international design award in the casual restaurant category.

Jennifer Roberts/The Globe and Mail

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OpenAire Inc. led the design, manufacture and installation of the retractable canopy for Maryland Live! Casino steakhouse patio south of Baltimore. The Oakville-based company that got its start doing sliding roofs for sports complexes is expanding into design, construction and installation of retractable roofs for restaurants.

OpenAire Inc.

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The roof of the patio of Joe’s American Bar and Grill in downtown Boston is designed to automatically close at the first drop of rain. This roof is 24 metres long and its bi-folding side windows can completely enclose the space. Its design is in keeping with the historic character of the Back Bay neighbourhood. Mr. Albertine finds that restaurants vary in the number of days they open their roofs. “In the summer time it’s a slam dunk that you want more air. But in the spring and fall people will decide for themselves how much they want to open it.”

OpenAire Inc.

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Being able to open to the sun was important for the Pizza Express on the beach of St. Brélade on the Isle of Jersey, which prides itself as being the warmest place in the British Isles, located just off the coast of Normandy, France. OpenAire Inc. designed a four-bay skylight with eight retractable panels that allow for 50 per cent of the roof to be opened on good days. Each client works out what’s right for them, Mr. Albertine says. “Every client asks, ‘How often should I open the roof?’ I tell them, ‘You’ll figure it out.’”

OpenAire Inc.

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