Preparing outdoor restaurants for the winter season requires a mix of preventative maintenance and creating a cozy atmosphere for patrons.
Here are some practical tips from a handyman’s perspective:
1. Inspect and Repair Infrastructure:
Roofs and Overhangs: Check for any damages or potential leak spots. Repair them to prevent water damage.
Flooring: Ensure that the flooring, whether it’s wood decking or paving, is in good condition. Fill in any cracks or gaps, and consider using slip-resistant paint or mats to prevent accidents on icy days.
Sealant: Apply weatherproof sealant to wood furniture and structures to protect them from moisture and potential snowfall.
Furniture Covers: Get high-quality waterproof covers for your tables, chairs, and other outdoor equipment. This protects them from direct snow contact and reduces wear and tear.
3. Heating Solutions:
Patio Heaters: Invest in quality patio heaters. These can be propane, natural gas, or electric, depending on your setup.
Fire Pits: Not only do they provide warmth, but they also create a cozy atmosphere. Ensure they are safely positioned away from flammable materials.
4. Wind and Snow Barriers:
Enclosures: Consider installing temporary enclosures or clear vinyl curtains around the dining area. This shields diners from cold winds while still offering an outdoor feel.
Snow Guards: If your restaurant has overhead areas where snow can accumulate, like roofs or awnings, install snow guards to prevent large amounts of snow from suddenly falling.
With shorter days, ensure you have adequate lighting. Consider installing weatherproof string lights or LED lanterns to create a warm ambiance.
6. Emergency Kits:
Keep de-icing salt, snow shovels, and emergency kits on hand. Regularly de-ice pathways and entrance areas to ensure safety for both staff and patrons.
Ensure that your outdoor area has proper drainage. This prevents water from accumulating and turning into dangerous ice patches.
8. Weather-Resistant Decor:
Use outdoor cushions and blankets made of weather-resistant fabric. These can be offered to patrons for added warmth.
9. Regular Maintenance:
Periodically check and clear any snow accumulation, especially on roofs, awnings, and pathways. Also, check heaters and other equipment to ensure they are working correctly.
Ensure that your patrons are aware of any changes to the dining experience, such as modified seating areas or the need for reservations due to limited winter seating.
11. Consider Takeaway Options:
If the weather gets too severe, having an efficient takeaway or delivery system can help maintain business during the colder months.
Preparing an outdoor restaurant for winter requires foresight and proactive measures. While the chill might be a challenge, with the right preparations, you can turn your outdoor space into a winter wonderland that patrons will love.