Each year, as the season changes from summer to fall and the temperatures dip, it's hard for restaurants to call their outdoor dining sections closed. This year there is even more incentive to extend the outdoor dining season and allow for socially distanced seating indoors and outdoors. The threat of COVID-19 has increased precautions for all businesses, and restaurants are among the hardest hit businesses. It is important to offer every mode of dining that is safe including inside, outdoor and carry-out. Restaurant owners have had to quickly become designers and logistics experts to come up with ways to continue to serve customers in the best and safest ways.
Custom Dining Area
Tents quickly became a solution for restaurants and some small businesses in March and April, and are starting to make a comeback on sidewalks, parking lots and other outdoor areas surrounding restaurants. Tents, however, are not a one-size-fits-all solution. A custom shelter might be the best answer as certain spaces require unique dimensions and custom construction.
A sidewalk café can keep the extra space open with the use of a custom structure built with tarps and poles. Tarps are not all utilitarian. They can be ordered in just about every color and size. White is a nice and inviting color and many establishments use it for their outdoor space. While you can go with white for the "roof," clear PVC vinyl tarps make great walls and even dividers to distance customers dining at separate tables.
Clear tarps allow light and visibility into the structure, while still shielding from wind and even rain. Tarps come in different thicknesses for durability and one to check out is the 22-mil thick, 18-ounce tarps. The PVC vinyl tarps are flame-resistant for added safety. You can still use kerosene and other space heaters, with safety precautions like running them at the advised distance from the tarps and with enough ventilation within these structures.
Constructing Extended Dining
If you've already installed a structure such as a covered patio, open tent or awning, you can use your existing structure to build your three-season dining. Whether you are working with an existing structure or creating new by erecting poles, you can use the grommets of the tarps to secure walls in place. There are plenty of tools to help you such as tarp clamps, tent stakes and anchor kits. You can also use tarp tape not just for repairs, but to seal two tarps together for better protection against weather.
Plan your structure and get adequate help when erecting the shelter. You'll also want lighting such as bistro lights so diners aren't sitting in the dark. Clear vinyl will provide a window so that passersby will be tempted to come dine at your establishment and diners have an outside view.
Outdoor dining is always a great advertisement for your restaurant, and a clear vinyl shelter will offer some new promotion for your business while allowing you to serve more customers and keep your patron and staff happy.