This past week, Denver-metro area residents and businesses were stunned with record-breaking heat and then a 60-degree overnight drop in temperatures, resulting in early-September snow flurries. While it will likely warm again before the official start of winter, minds are turning to the impending cold months not just here in Colorado but throughout the northern states.
In an effort to work around COVID, new measures were set in place for outdoor dining at restaurants. Many cities and smaller communities even closed off portions of streets—or whole streets!—to allow more space for restaurants and other businesses to meet their guests in the open air. With dropping temperatures, many restauranteurs are wondering how they will continue to reach the maximum allowed capacities if they lose their outdoor dining to winter weather.
“Of course, in Colorado, we hope capacity will go up to 100 persons shortly or 50% of the posted building code capacity,” National Restaurant Consultants CEO Richard Weil says. “However, outdoor dining continues to make the most sense.”
In an effort to prolong outdoor dining capabilities, our restaurant consultants recommend that restaurants begin preparing for the cold now. “There is a shortage of outdoor heaters to purchase and to rent,” warns Weil, so thinking ahead is crucial.
Propane heaters scattered about an outdoor patio are an obvious choice for keeping guests warm, though with shortages threatening and required spacing between tables, heaters alone will not extend outdoor dining season.
Our restaurant consultants suggest a number of other warming elements that can maximize your outdoor space for a longer period of time.
- Turn to hygge. Suggesting coziness and warmth goes a long way. Elements like sheepskin throws on seats or afghans slung over the arm of a chair offer guests some added insulation. Flickering candles will also give the illusion of warmth.
- Warming menus. Be sure to increase your offering of soups, hot teas, and other warming dishes with spices to generate heat in the body.
- Transparent shelter. Like Scandanavian countries, some local businesses are beginning to turn to temporary shelters made of transparent materials to store heat and allow the sun’s warmth. Clear tents or igloos are ideal for pod seating and, especially in sunny climates, will encourage outdoor dining even as the temperatures decrease.
Our restaurant consultants are available to troubleshoot issues that arise in these ever-changing times. If you are in need of assistance with COVID restrictions or to extend your outdoor dining season, contact a restaurant consultant today.
Photo by Humphrey Muleba