WINDSOR, ONT. -- The pandemic has brought many changes, some of them good — at least according to one long-time downtown Windsor business owner.

“It took this pandemic to open up some eyes,” said La Guardia Pizzeria owner Michael Ciliberto.

Ciliberto has owned his pizzeria downtown for more than 40 years.

In all that time he said he’s tried to get a patio, Friday it became a reality with a new downtown parklet.

Crews were able to build the new patio spaces in three days. It will allow the three restaurants at 54 Pitt Street who pitched the idea 15 days ago the chance to serve customers throughout the summer.

"After the success of our first weekend street closure after Canada Day, we're thrilled to continue to support our small businesses and restaurants in downtown Windsor,” Brian Yeomans Downtown Business Improvement Association chair said in a news release. “Clearing years of red tape with city administration demonstrates their commitment to showing up for small businesses and allowing these establishments to recover from the economic shutdown of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The City of Windsor has opted to fast track patios and parklets as a way to help struggling businesses recover.

“From our Pilot Project in Walkerville to introduce parklets and curbside cafes, to today's unveiling of Downtown Windsor's first parklet on Pitt Street East and the announcement of the upcoming Pelissier Street parklet, this innovative program is about finding inviting new ways to expand customer capacity while observing pandemic measures,” Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said.

Panache Restaurant and Lounge, La Guardia Italian Cuisine and On A Roll Sushi will operate from the same walled-off patio-style seating area, starting Friday, a welcome boost to their business.

“I don't even know if you can recover from what we've lost but it’s a start and hopefully this will lead to stage three and we can do the reopening, indoors and try to build back what we've lost,” said Cilliberto.