EDMONTON -- If anything, the pandemic has forced people to embrace Edmonton as a winter city.

Due to the ongoing changes with health restrictions, the struggling hospitality industry has embraced change to help drive more revenue into businesses.

So far, the idea that has proven to be the most beneficial has been utilizing outdoor real estate — a concept that could remain long after the vaccines take effect.

Little Brick, a popular café in the flats, made the most of their outdoor space by expanding operations into their backyard.

Owner Jay Downton gives credit to the move for being able to keep the lights on.

“It gave us a chance to keep business going.

“Without it, I bet our sales would have been 50 per cent less,” Downton told CTV News Edmonton.

While Little Brick might be the biggest backyard bistro, it’s not the first.

There’s a restaurant downtown with a river valley vista that’s been adding to its outdoor profit for the past three seasons.

Chris Short, general manager at the Courtyard by Marriott, said the outdoor fixtures were probably 30 per cent of their food and beverage take home in years past.

“This year they were 99 per cent. They are a money maker,” he added.

Tiramisu Bistro on 124 Street has added heated outdoor igloos in a bid to boost earnings.

The domes are available Monday to Friday but booked solid on the weekends. They will go into storage in mid-April.

“The whole idea of these bubbles is to not only extend our seating but also to create a safe environment for people who don’t feel comfortable coming out for dinner,” Seble Isaac, owner of Tiramisu Bistro, said.

Isaac told CTV News she had to wait for COVID-19 restrictions to ease in order to put up the igloos — and there is a catch.

Isaac explained the domes are on city property, which means the bistro can only offer them on a temporary permit.

The hope is to be able to offer the outdoor option to the public every winter.

“I’m sure the city can figure out a way to try to help different businesses and make it more exciting as well,” Isaac said.

Communications advisor for the City of Edmonton, Raffaella Loro told CTV News, the city will continue to engage with restaurateurs to incorporate sidewalk cafés into the streetscape. 

"[It will contribute] to the local economy and vibrancy of Edmonton's main streets," she said. 

With files from CTV News Edmonton's David Ewasuk