Preparing Your Restaurant for Winter Weather
If your restaurant is located in an area that receives frequent snow during the winter months, chances are a snowstorm or other forces of nature can impact your business. Instead of worrying about bad weather, take the precautionary steps to keep your restaurant safe in the winter. Continue reading to learn more about a few ways you can prepare your restaurant for cold weather.Shop All Emergency Preparedness Supplies
1. Stock Up on Winter Supplies
To properly prepare your restaurant for the winter, you will need to stock up on the right supplies. Winter storms and power outages seem to come out of nowhere, and very few people are ready for them ahead of time. Be sure to purchase these products before it starts to get cold.
Emergency Winter Supplies Checklist
- Ice melt or rock salt
- First aid kits
- Non-perishable supplies
- Additional toiletries
- Extra batteries
- Emergency radio
- Candles, flashlights, or glow sticks
- Extra rugs and floor mats
- Door heat curtains
- Caution signs
- Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes
- Tool kits
2. Prepare for Power Outages and Problems
If your restaurant is located in an area where snow, ice, and other bad weather is common, you must be prepared to handle inclement weather. Here are a few ways in which you can prepare your restaurant for bad weather:
- Invest in a generator
- Have an HVAC technician inspect your heating system
- Create a snow and ice removal plan for sidewalks and parking lots
- Keep the kitchen cool while the heat’s on by installing a zone heating system or using a portable air conditioner
3. Winterize Your Outdoor Spaces
Follow these steps to prepare and protect your outdoor areas during the winter:
- Clean and store furniture: Vacuum fabric items such as cushions and umbrellas before storing in a dry area. Wash plastic furniture and treat wicker and wood furniture with oil before storing indoors.
- Inspect metal tables and chairs: Check for rust and paint scratches after cleaning off your metal tables and chairs. Small rust spots can be scraped and painted over, but if a piece has large rusty patches, consider replacing it.
- Power wash your patio: Use a power washer or hose to wash the debris off of your patio floor. This will make it much easier to clean again in the spring.
- Prevent pipes from bursting: When you’re done with the hose, clear it of any water and turn off the outdoor tap. Additionally, you should cover any exposed pipes in your building with foam insulation.
- Protect against pests: Because pests will want to come inside to get out of the cold, you must make sure all outdoor vents are properly covered with mesh. Trim plants and shrubbery around the patio to prevent small animals from burrowing in the shelter of bushes and flowerbeds.
4. Fire Safety for Your Restaurant
The risk of fires increases over the winter, especially if you use heating units to make your indoor spaces more comfortable. Temporary outdoor structures like pop-up tents and igloos can also present a fire hazard when heating units are used improperly. Follow these fire safety tips to stay safe over the winter months:
- Take the time to hold a fire safety training and refresh your staff members on the latest protocols.
- Make sure your fire extinguishers are inspected and fully functional.
- Keep up with all vent hood cleaning.
- Read the instruction manual for all heating units and use them only as intended.
How to Increase Restaurant Sales in the Winter
With colder weather coming in, fewer people are willing to venture out. Finding new ways to increase sales during the winter can be tough. Test out one or both of these ideas at your restaurant to gain more sales.
1. Create a Cozy Outdoor Space
An outdoor patio creates a unique dining space that customers enjoy, even in the winter months. An outdoor fireplace or a few patio heaters and some blankets can help set the scene of your winter wonderland. Elevate your drink menu by adding warm beverages like spiked hot chocolate, hot spiced tea, or a hot mulled cider, also known as wassail, to warm up your outdoor guests. Plus, keeping outdoor areas open and comfortable in the winter will set you apart from competitors with closed terraces or indoor-only seating.
2. Use a Delivery Service
Hiring a third-party delivery service can help you reach more customers without the cost and hassle of implementing your own delivery program. Delivery is often an ideal option during the winter for patrons who may not have a car or an easy means of getting to your restaurant. Customers will justify paying a delivery fee because of the cold weather and bad road conditions.
3. Create a Winter Menu
A unique and updated winter menu filled with exciting ingredients and winter cocktails will intrigue your guests. Try adding especially warming meals to take the chill off from the trek over to your restaurant, and feature bowls of winter soups, gumbo, or ramen. Extra points if your meals include some of the top food trends of the year.
4. Offer Take-and-Bake Meals To-Go
Sometimes, customers prefer the privacy of eating in the comfort of their own home. Take-and-bake meals are partially cooked meals that customers can order in advance, pick up, and finish baking at their home. Offering an unbeatable par-baked lasagna, macaroni and cheese, or pizza meal kit are great ways to entice guests with warming, almost homemade meals. Print or handwrite the heating instructions on a card for your customers to follow. Don't forget to offer wine pairings to increase your beverage sales!
Regardless of the type of business you own, properly preparing for cold weather and incorporating innovative strategies to keep customers coming back is essential to the success of your establishment. Use our tips to keep your business thriving during the cold months.