As the colder months approach for many regions, restaurants that have been operating mainly outdoors throughout the pandemic are beginning to reassess how they will carry on as temperatures drop. With increased likelihood of COVID-19 transmission indoors, many diners are not comfortable spending extended periods seated inside restaurants, and many food and beverage industry operators don’t want to expose themselves or their staff to a number of potential carriers in close range.
The autumn will be “the worst fall, from a public health perspective, we’ve ever had,” Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told WebMD. “We’re going to have COVID in the fall, and we’re going to have flu in the fall. And either one of those by themselves can stress certain hospital systems.” It’s up to each community to prepare for the next stage in this uncharted terrain.
As we know from the very beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, keeping hospitals and frontline workers from being overwhelmed with patients is vital to keeping our nation as healthy as possible. Although there are plenty of people who still want to go out to eat and drink, so making those environments as safe as possible can decrease the possibility of outbreaks.
It’s time to get creative and continue to adapt. There are many ways that restaurants can deal with this unprecedented challenge while maintaining profitability and, more importantly, keeping guests and employees safe. All it takes is thinking outside the box and finding the right solution for each individual business.
I recently partnered with accomplished restaurant consultant Sam Kanter who is well versed in the food and beverage industry’s ins and outs. With this astute input, I am working with restaurants to modify interiors and erect movable structures, tailored specifically to the needs of each space.
Durable, waterproof, heavy-duty tarps that provide necessary airflow while expanding sheltered patio space are one solution for restaurants. As the colder weather approaches, commercial outdoor heating units can be installed to safely allow diners and service-industry workers to carry on as close to normal as possible.
Additionally, gas fire pits incorporated into tables provide a source of warmth for diners while enhancing the aesthetics of the seating area. Patrons love to sit around a fire at a ski resort all night, and we can provide the same experience in the city and suburbs as the leaves begin to drop off the trees.
In regions where temperatures are set to plummet in a few months, there are options for affordable changes to be made so communities can stay employed and fed.
Make a Plan
“There are some technical challenges with winter-expanded patios because of snow removal on streets and sidewalks, as well as fire inspections that might be needed for portable heaters,” says Eric Escudero, director of communications for Denver Excise and Licenses in Business Den. “However, all restaurants and bars can apply to make a permanent modification of their premises so they can have expanded service areas in the winter.”