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July 17, 2021

Can deck season survive the downturn?

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

As Canadians, we’re pretty complex people.

Despite the cultural parallels, we do NOT want to be confused for Americans, we somehow consider Molson Dry a choice beverage and, no matter how much it’s shoved down our throats, most of us think Corner Gas  sucks.

There is, however, one thing we’re fairly set on. Give us the simplicity of a patio, summertime and some sizzlin’ grub and we’re good to go.

But – not sure if you’ve heard – there’s this thing called a recession going on. And it’s done a pretty good job cutting down everything except property taxes and B.J. Ryan’s ERA.

So as we limp into the first summer of Canada’s downturn, could deck season be the next casualty to take a hit?

Not so fast, as it turns out. Proving, once again, we’re more resilient than an Aretha Franklin belt buckle, Canada appears to have hit back at the shattered economy and kept its beloved pastime running smooth.

According to the Winnipeg Free Press, only shoddy weather has kept patrons off the city’s patios this season. Even then, most restaurant owners say sales have met or exceeded those of years past.

In fact, the perpetual desire of Canadians to enjoy food and drink outdoors has even sprouted into its own cottage industry. Enterprises like BackyardCuisine, an onsite gourmet grilling service, have popped up just to satisfy our habitual appetite to devour the perfect piece of meat in our very, well, backyards.

Serving most of Ontario, BackyardCuisine is enjoying its inaugural summer as – to the best of my knowledge – the first BBQ service that actually grills and prepares meals at your own home.

And the company’s roots, admits grill master Nicholas McDonald, were a matter of the downturn’s consequence.

“A lot of people are choosing to eat and entertain at home as opposed to restaurants nowadays,” he says. “And – especially in Ontario – with so many beautiful backyards and properties, why shouldn’t you be able to host there without having to slave behind the grill?”

The way McDonald tells it, BackyardCuisine works pretty simple: For about $75, a party of four can sit and chill out at home (“And not have to pay five times the price for booze and pop.”) while a BYC grillman comes over, fires up your own BBQ and grills a multi-course meal that includes chicken or steak and fresh veggies. Parties of up to 30 are welcome. Sounds pretty good, no?

Well, that ain’t it. McDonald can also boast BackyardCuisine only uses local, organic grub when it’s brought fresh to you. So, even though your car’s Japanese and you’d rather vacation at Guantanamo Bay than Thunder Bay, the Buy Ontario gods won’t exactly be sentencing you to Hell just yet.

And business, he says? So far, so good. As it turns out, the nation’s hunger for a patio feast isn’t quite tied to the Wall Street ticker, after all.

So get lost for now, recession. Our burgers are almost done.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...