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It’s springtime and the outdoor sitting is pretty

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A group of friends have a beer at Blue Garten in Oklahoma City, Friday, March 27, 2015. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • A group of friends have a beer at Blue Garten in Oklahoma City, Friday, March 27, 2015.

Spring is here, but not for long.

Though it technically lasts through June 20, Oklahomans know that spring is a fickle mistress. One minute, everybody is wearing light sweaters and talking about jogging, and the next, it’s a flaming hellscape, where the nights never dip below 90 degrees and the state sport is sitting in a pool of unearned sweat.

Which is why the word people just won’t stop saying is “patio.”

“It’s definitely a draw for us,” said Cindy Watts, who owns Bedlam Bar-B-Q, 610 NE 50th St., with her husband Jeff Watts. “People come here for the patio, so they can eat while their kids run around.”

The massive patio in back expands the restaurant’s capacity by 100 seats, and Cindy said when the weather is nice, it pulls in families, birthday parties and even rehearsal dinners.

A frequent guest on the patio is Meleia Williamson, who said Bedlam’s patio is “comfy and familiar” like a well-loved living room.

Oak & Ore owner and manager Micah Andrews (Mark Hancock)
  • Mark Hancock
  • Oak & Ore owner and manager Micah Andrews

“There is plenty of shaded seating to contest the Oklahoma sun and even an outdoor fireplace for when the evenings gets crisp,” she said.

Micah Andrews, owner of Oak & Ore, 1732 NW 16th St., said he uses the front patio area to entice new customers into the restaurant.

“After just a week, we’ve seen that area fill up quickly,” he said. “It drives interest. People who walk by see people sitting out front with a beer or with food and they want to peek inside and see what’s going on. Some people don’t know we’re here, so it definitely drives business for us.”

To Devan Benton, manager of Iguana Mexican Grill, 9 NW Ninth St., the patio is where people go to wind down.

“We have some of the best margaritas and swirls around, so it’s not uncommon to see people sitting out there, sipping a few drinks,” he said. “Another thing is that we allow dogs, so customers can hang out and have a sangria and just relax.”

Expanded shopping opportunities in the area means sitting on the patio, people-watching or seeing friends walk by, he said. And no time is quite as hectic as Sunday mornings.

“It gets full extremely quickly, especially during brunch,” Benton said.

Hunter Wheat at The Bleu Garten. (Mark Hancock)
  • Mark Hancock
  • Hunter Wheat at The Bleu Garten.

The Bleu Garten owner Hunter Wheat said that since the business is almost all patio, weather and planning are key.

“Generally, we see our highest volume on Saturdays and Sunday,” he said. “We strive to have at least four food trucks at any given time, to make sure we can handle the traffic.”

Trucks are booked about three months in advance, and the variety keeps the large outdoor dining area plenty busy.

“We really get all walks of life,” Wheat said. “Families come in who don’t have a single drink, and we also get the opposite.”

Starting in May, The Bleu Garten, 301 NW 10th St, will start catering to a new clientele: canines. Using a malt-and- broth concoction, he’s planning doggie drinking contests. There will also be cult movie nights and a competition for OKC’s best food truck.

While some restaurants are pushing for people to use the patio space, the sheer number of customers is driving a change to the patio at Pepe Delgados, 786 Asp Ave., in Norman. Owner Emilio Salinas said that in the next month, he’s enclosing the patio area with walls to continue growing his interior.

“The restaurant keeps growing, and I need more dining space inside,” he said. “When the weather is bad, those are months we can’t use that area.”

Cindy Watts said patio life doesn’t cease quite so quickly at Bedlam Bar- B-Q. A large, open fireplace keeps guests warm even as autumn descends.

For the time being, however, it is spring. So she is looking forward to more Saturday nights with bands playing under the open sky and 30-odd kids in the field next door, playing football in the grass.

Print headline: Spring rites, It’s springtime and the sitting is pretty as diners can finally enjoy some of the best patio dining anywhere.

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