SUDBURY -- While waiting for the green light, downtown Sudbury businesses are breaking out their tool belts in anticipation of reopening.

Pop-up patios have started to appear on Durham Street, showing another promise of summer on top of the warm weather.

“This year we decided to do the patio just with all the COVID restrictions,” said Peppi Panini owner Julia Bertin. “We all need, we need help. Our businesses, our restaurants, we need customers to come in, eat, sit down, drink, have a great time. That’s what we need to survive. That’s what keeps us going.”

This is the first year that Peppi Panini is launching a full-blown patio, upgrading from a few sidewalk tables last year.

“We’re really excited about it,” said Bertin. “Having that patio option of outdoor dining, like we saw last summer, it’s going to allow us to have those customers outside if they can’t dine in inside.”

Peppi Panini’s patio is part of a patio program with Downtown Sudbury BIA in an effort to ramp up the downtown area.

“We have people who had little patios last year that have big patios this year," said Kyle Marcus with Downtown Sudbury BIA. "They’ve all subscribed to our patio program that has a rebate involved with it for their construction and material costs, which we are really excited to help them out.”

Marcus said there are at least 15 patios signed up and ready to get serving this summer.

“For a lot of people, this is the break that they need after, you know, 14 months of extreme hardship,” he said.

This is not the first time pop-up patios have taken up space downtown – both on the road and sidewalks. But last year, accessibility for seniors and people with disabilities was an issue. Marcus said it was taken into account in planning for this season.

“We meet once a week to make sure everything is on the level and there are little details, like you have to maintain five-foot distance to make sure any people that need accessibility can make it through,” he said.

Marcus said restaurants who want to expand their patio to the front of other businesses need to get permission.

“Everything has to be permitted by the city, so we work very closely with them,” he said.

Restaurant owners said that patios are designed for everyone and the idea is to draw more people to the area.

“The full sidewalk is available,” said Bertin. “Plus we added on to our patio. So we are taking up one parking space. Completely wheelchair accessible, like I said before. All engineered, architecture approved, accessibility is not an issue here.”

Right now, the patios sit ready but empty as owners wait for direction from the province on when they can open and how many tables they can set up.