Brassaii Bistro Lounge

New Natural Gas Patio Heaters Extend Outdoor Dining Season at Canadian Bistro

2,200-sq.-ft. patio dining area.

Three natural gas infrared patio heaters.

Toronto, Ontario.

Frommer’s Toronto 2005 Guide offers an enthusiastic review of the Brassaii Bistro Lounge, describing it as offering “excellent cooking and brilliant service” in a “picture-perfect setting.” The highly-popular Brassaii, a contemporary downtown restaurant, has added to its outdoor patio’s ambience by installing newly designed infrared patio heaters that run on natural gas. These patio heaters also allow the restaurant to extend its outdoor dining season to six months a year, despite Canada’s cooler climate. And because the new units are extremely energy efficient (up to 80%), they consume less fuel than older infrared heaters.

Heaters deliver comfort in shoulder-months

The three mushroom-shaped, 50,000 Btu heaters used at Brassaii have two settings, high and low, to provide a comfortable atmosphere for those wishing to dine al fresco on the 2,200-sq.-ft. outdoor patio, which seats 85. The heaters, installed in 2004, make it possible to enjoy the outdoor patio not just from mid-June to August, but also in the shoulder months – April, May, early June, September and October – thereby increasing restaurant revenue. “It prolongs our season,” says Peter Tsebelis, Managing Director of Brassaii. “The units are fantastic. I’ve had nothing but good comments from the customers.” Tsebelis says the infrared patio heaters, developed in 2002 by the Canadian Natural Gas Technologies Centre (NGTC), are far more economical than previous methods of heating the outdoor dining area, and create a pleasant atmosphere even on chilly days.
“The ability to operate in cooler weather conditions not only provides comfort to our customers, it has also extended the life of our patio, thereby providing an additional source of revenue,” says Toronto restaurateur Peter Tsebelis.
“The new patio heater has proven to be efficient in its service, and the design has allowed it to be compatible and unobtrusive,” Tsebelis told Enbridge Gas Distribution, which worked with a consortium of natural gas utilities to develop this improved gas-fired patio heater for commercial use. “The opportunity to utilize your new patio heaters has been a tremendous benefit to our business. The ability to operate in cooler weather conditions not only provides comfort to our customers, it has also extended the life of our patio, thereby providing an additional source of revenue.” Boris Mladjen, P.E., Manager of Energy Technology for Enbridge, says the infrared patio heaters used at Brassaii are more efficient than competing products, in terms of how much energy is used to provide a designated level of comfort over a specific surface area. The heaters were manufactured by Superior Radiant Products Ltd., of St. Catherine’s, Ontario, using a radiant heat deflector assembly, designed in 2002 by a team that included Caroline Duphily, Assistant Manager of Research & Development at the NGTC in Montreal. This deflector produces uniform radiant heat over a larger comfort area than previous models.

Lower installation and operating costs

NGTC surveyed restaurant owners who used older patio heaters and discovered that they experienced problems with heat distribution and required numerous heater units to maintain comfort for customers. The new infrared units provide greater comfort and require fewer units to do the job, resulting in lower installation costs and reduced operating expenses, according to Duphily. The blue-flame natural gas burners in these units heat a central stainless steel plate until it turns red hot and radiates heat both downward and upward to a reflector. Using both the upper and lower sides of this plate makes it possible to build smaller, more compact heaters. The manufacturer has also developed an atmospheric burner with an intense blue flame that enhances nighttime ambience, while providing better wind resistance.
A side benefit of having a well-heated outdoor patio is being able to accommodate smokers who wish to smoke after a meal, according to Tsebelis. Although Toronto regulations prohibit indoor smoking, smokers are free to light up in outdoor dining areas. Because his 2fi-year-old restaurant also uses natural gas for cooking, heating and hot water, Tsebelis says natural gas-fired patio heating was a natural choice, in addition to being economical and efficient.