Getting Your Business Ready for the Summer of Outdoor Service
As restaurants and bars begin to reopen, outdoor service will remain an exceedingly popular option for those who have lingering COVID-19 concerns. If you own or manage a bar or restaurant that is experimenting with outdoor service for the first time (or if you are expanding your already existing outdoor service area) you are probably incurring some new cost to do so. Not only is outdoor service weather dependent, it also provides a larger likelihood of broken or stolen materials. If outdoor service is something that is new to your business, take time to evaluate what you need to meet your service standards when operating outdoors.
Making our way through re-opening phases has the potential to be a tedious process. If you manage a popular bar that is usually stuffed with patrons on Friday and Saturday night you are going to do everything you can to try and return beverage sales to pre-COVID metrics. However, once business really ramps back up, patrons are not going to be fond of having other customers reaching over them to buy drinks at a busy bar. It will be important to spread your bar service out. Set up extra cash bars that are quick and convenient. Make sure these cash bars have your best-selling drinks available and use single use cups and supplies for convenience and sanitation.
If you are making outdoor food services available, or more accessible, there are a lot of expenses to prepare for. Umbrellas are a standard above most outdoor tables. Not only to protect diners from any unexpected showers, but also to provide shade on bright sunny days. In the evenings, materials to prevent insects from hovering around patrons are often necessary. Unless properly staffed, an outdoor seating area also provides the unfortunate opportunity for delinquent dine-and-dashers, so you will always want to have enough staff to monitor the outdoor area. Depending on the type of restaurant it may be easiest to utilize disposable utensils, plates, and containers when serving outdoors. Replacing glassware and silverware with high quality disposable supplies can keep things simple, and a lot less fragile, for the wait staff.
Although preparing for outdoor service can mean investing in new supplies and taking on new risks, it is still miles ahead of the total shutdown we were facing just a few short weeks ago. The important thing is not to be too eager to throw something together and provide substandard outdoor service. Take the time to really evaluate what adjustments and supplies you need to operate successfully.