LONDON, ONT. -- “Oh so pumped! You gotta take advantage of the weather,” says Melanie Weaver as she waits for a table at the Sweet Onion Bistro in Wortley Village.

The patio in Wortley is like many across the city, brimming with people who are escaping a forced hibernation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am so happy to be out, it’s so nice to have the sun on my skin, and to be around people again. And to actually support businesses as well,” says Chris, who only waited a few minutes before a table became available.

There were openings for those who happened to come by mid-afternoon, but reservations for the evening sittings were completely booked

“So the moment that we were allowed to open and we went orange, everyone filled the patio,” says Cleopatra Camera, owner of Sweet Onion Bistro.

She is also setting up structures to weather proof the patio this year, so they don’t lose out on any business due to rain.

“Steel-top gazebos, so we can have an all-season patio in the winter, snow, rain, and then you can extend the seasons.”

The joy of those who have craved any form of normality over the past few months was evident with smiles and laughter like days gone by before masks and social distancing.

Laurie Mangru saw the forecast and put a plan in place to be able to enjoy the afternoon with a friend, “So I did my work, and got my work out of the way, and I said that’s it I’m going out for a beer.”

While Bobby and Anne, who admitted to having a touch of cabin fever, were told they’d only have a small window, it didn’t phase them.

“We just winged it and decided to come down, and then she said, well in an hour-and-a-half we’ll be fully booked, I said that’s OK we’re just coming for late lunch.”

With cooler temperatures expected to return next week, Wednesday was the appetizer for what businesses and patrons hope will be a long and enjoyable return to the patio season.