When Darren Howes took a trip to Philadelphia, he noticed how the city took advantage of their outdoor patios during the warmer weather. Given Medicine Hat’s long summer and sunny days, he and his business partner Josh Hopkins felt a family-friendly seasonal patio would fit well in downtown Medicine Hat.
They spent two months developing a lot and opened The Yard in July 2020. When it came time to put in the front and back fence, the two applied and received the beautification loan from Community Futures Entre-Corp.
“The fence was a very functional piece for our business since we’re an open lot. We needed it to function and lock up, but we also think the style of the fence fits really well with the whole downtown vibe,” says Howes. “You can still see through the fence, so it doesn’t feel like a barrier. It’s still very welcoming, and we love that.”
The Yard is a place that hopes to encompass all of Medicine Hat in one place. They collaborate with many other locally-owned businesses in the city from the three breweries, Hell’s Basement, Medicine Hat Brew Co., and Travois Ale Works, to Trackside Liquor Store, The Hat’s Olive Tap, Mike’s Meat’s and Medicine Hat Meat Traders. The seasonal patio also features food trucks and hosts local musicians weekly.
“That was always our thing from the beginning, to create this space that features Medicine Hat. We always prefer to use local vendors whenever we can,” says Howes. “Having the support and funding to create a space like this really took the edge off. There’s huge capital outlay in the beginning for any new business and to be able to allocate the resource into our startup costs was extremely beneficial for us.”
As The Yard enters their third year of business in summer 2022, they will continue to explore how their space can be used in the best ways, from private functions, to community events and hosting live performances. In the past, they’ve collaborated with Medicine Hat Mural Fest, where artists painted the brick walls on either side of the outdoor patio.
“It’s always easy finding local companies to partner with, and the community support has been fantastic. We’re still seeing new customers while also having a group of regulars that we love hosting,” says Howes.
The Yard can be found online at https://www.theyard-downtown.com/.