Generally, people don't respond well to change. It's awkward and scary, and many people try to avoid it at all costs. Enter the year 2020 -- where no one was spared the uncomfortable process of change. It might be safe to say, 2020 is the year that pushed almost everyone out of their comfort zone and into a rat race to adjust to the times. Never was this more true than with restaurant and bar owners.
In the spring and summer of 2020, restaurant owners embraced dining alfresco, a beloved European dining option, when their indoor dining rooms were closed for COVID-19 precautions. During this time, Americans came to understand why this style of dining is so popular abroad.
But the summer months are over, and for many states with harsh winters, dining alfresco will have challenging obstacles. Still, according to an article by usatoday.com, nearly half of all full-service restaurants say they will take action to extend outdoor dining into the winter months.
For many cities, the challenges go far beyond the inclement weather. A lack of space and added costs are two giant road-blocks restaurateurs must get through. Adding tarps, outdoor heaters, and possibly pop-up tents all take money and space -- two commodities in short supply these days.
Two possible solutions for restaurant owners include adding radiant space heaters to the outdoor space and offering customers cozy, luxurious blankets. The outdoor heaters are a logical investment, but they have their limitations. A commercial heating unit can cover approximately 200 square feet and keep the climate comfortable when the outdoor temperature drops to around 35 degrees. At $1000 to $2000 each, these heaters are costly but necessary, and they are growing increasingly difficult to find as more and more restaurants scramble to prepare their outdoor space for winter.
Another popular solution to staying warm during your winter alfresco experiences is much more cost-effective and space-saving than pop-up tents. Many restaurants are providing customers with warm blankets for added comfort. Cory Perlson of Gotham Cleaners in New York City recently launched a blanket service to restaurants, and so far, the venture has been a hit.
Some people might worry that wrapping up in a blanket is unsanitary, especially during a pandemic. Perlson explains that people who want to extend their outside dining into the colder months will be open-minded and give the blankets a try. Perlson adds that for those still a little leery about cleanliness, all of the blankets are only used by one patron and then returned to his cleaning service where trained employees disinfect, clean, and re-package them for the next customer.
Outdoor dining in the winter months is just one of many pivots restaurant owners have entertained in 2020 -- a year of extreme challenges. But no one can accuse restaurant owners of going down without a fight. Since day-one of COVID-19 restrictions, many have fought like hell to provide excellent service to their patrons under unbelievable circumstances.
Extending the outdoor dining experience this winter will have its challenges; however, having some outdoor heaters and providing comfortable blankets for customers is a significant first step to keeping the patio open. And with all the efforts being made and all the struggles already fought, any restaurant owner thinking outside the box to stay open deserves your business. So, bundle up, grab a blanket, and enjoy the atmosphere.
Media Contact: Gotham Cleaners, +1 201-233-7700