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How Outdoor Dining Restaurants Can Cut Maintenance Costs

While sharing a meal al fresco has always been popular in the summer, outdoor dining took on a new meaning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, restaurants and patrons are slow to let go of eating outside. Others would agree that patio seating is the key to their establishment’s survival. 

However, maintenance eats away at overhead costs that ensure the ultimate outdoor dining experience. Restaurateurs can save money by cutting these expenses in the following ways. 

Purchase Maintenance Management Software 

Outdoor dining operations are pricey enough without ongoing maintenance costs. In Los Angeles — where the state intends to implement its new Al Fresco Program — restaurant owners will have to pay an additional $40,000 to $50,000 to continue their current patio setup. The new ordinances will essentially force many restaurants to shut their doors. 

Computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) lets you track the money you’re putting into your establishment, from outdoor dining to equipment to HVAC. CMMS may prompt your decision about whether buying new items or repairing what you have is better. This will help you allocate your money.  

Protect Furniture

Part of creating a wonderful patio dining experience for customers is ensuring the furniture is comfortable, clean and safe. You can cut maintenance costs by checking that chairs and tables are protected from wear and tear and the elements.

Consider using a powder coating on metal furniture for outstanding durability and appeal. Protective powder coatings can last around 40 years if carefully treated. It’s also a good idea to occasionally wash down plastic patio furniture with a hose to remove dirt and debris. 

Add an Overhang

You can further protect furniture and your restaurant’s patio by adding overhead coverage. A tent, pergola or vinyl mesh overhang will prevent the sun from fading outdoor furniture and keep your guests safe from rain and sun exposure. You could also include individual umbrellas at each table.

It only takes minutes to assemble larger tents that fit 10 or more people. Likewise, a retractable awning might be another option for adding coverage to your outdoor seating area. These are excellent options for sudden rain showers or summer days that are exceedingly hot. Press a button for the shade to roll out over the restaurant’s patio for protection.

Divert Rainwater

A rainy day is enough to ruin outdoor seating for guests and wreak havoc on your establishment’s patio area. As a result, you can expect to bite the extra maintenance costs for rain damage and flooding. Additionally, sitting water might attract mosquitoes and flies, deterring patrons from eating outside.

You can cut outdoor maintenance costs by diverting rainwater from your patio dining area. Add slanted surfaces to send rain in the opposite direction. A French drain may be another option for a drainage ditch, which could also become an attractive hardscaping feature. 

Prevent Pest and Rodent Infestations

Serving food outside is bound to attract rodents and bugs, regardless of any preventive measures you take. Hiring an extermination service can help control insect outbreaks, such as mosquitoes and ants, from becoming a nuisance and getting into people’s meals. 

In some areas like New York City, restaurateurs must combat rats. For example, establishments near Father Fagan Park in SoHo have many rats burrowing in nearby ground cover as the city park grapples with poor sanitation. 

Pest and rodent prevention presents an opportunity for restaurants to enhance their aesthetics. Consider installing hardscaping instead of garden beds. You can add color with raised flower boxes if you’d like. Ensuring that you promptly remove trash and food residue is also helpful in deterring rodents. Rats will look for scraps under tables and chairs — a significant turnoff for customers. 

Schedule Annual Inspections and Maintenance

Just as you have someone inspect your kitchen equipment, it may be worth your time and money to schedule annual inspections and maintenance of your outdoor dining area. Some problems may not be visible to the naked eye or to someone who doesn’t know what they’re looking for.

An inspector with years of experience can provide insight regarding immediate repairs versus what issues can wait. This gives you time to prepare for more expensive upkeep and plan your finances accordingly. 

Stay Ahead of Problems

Tracking upcoming repairs and regularly caring for your outdoor equipment and furniture is the best way to cut back on maintenance costs for your restaurant. Address minor problems as soon as you notice them to keep them from growing into something bigger.

Tables and chairs beginning to rust or accumulate dirt could be coated with protective powder for longer-term usage. Pay attention to water flow during rainy weather, too. If it’s spilling into the outdoor dining area, take swift action to divert it from your restaurant. 

Staying ahead of significant maintenance issues will save you money on substantial repairs in the long run.

Save Money on Outdoor Dining Maintenance

Restaurateurs must find ways to pad their pockets, especially as operational costs increase with inflation and other fees. A combination of software upgrades, regular repairs and protective measures can help you save ample money on restaurant maintenance costs, enabling you to invest in other areas and focus on growth.

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