Dining Al Fresco: Summer Serving Tips

Posted on: August 19, 2020 by RMS Hospitality

One of the first changes made to our daily lives following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States was the closure of in-house dining at restaurants. Favorite neighborhood food spots from San Francisco to Kansas City began offering curbside and delivery options instead of dine-in to stay busy and diners said goodbye to their weekend brunches.

But as the virus continues to slow down and states reopen, restaurants are opening back up again with limited capacity and services. One way is through dining al fresco, or outside eating. In regards to this option, it’s important for restaurants to ask some important questions about the safety of eating and sitting outside. The main question is how can restaurants ensure they’re being fair to both diners and pedestrians.

When answering these questions, restaurants need to look for ways to keep their diners safe through attentive service that also stays within social distancing and cleanliness standards.

Al Fresco Serving Tips

Some cities are traditionally known for having plenty of outdoor, or al fresco, dining options, such as Miami, Chicago, Austin, and the NY restaurant industry. From corner cafes to outdoor coffee shops to ice houses down in Texas, dining al fresco is a staple in most states. But for restaurants that don’t have outdoor dining options, having to adapt can be somewhat of a challenge.

Here are some ways in which this could be achieved:

  • Get it Approved: While opening back up sounds like a snap, offering al fresco dining options requires approval by local governments and building inspectors. This is to limit the potential for accidents and exposure to outside community members not dining outside. Restaurants need to apply for a permit before allowing one outside diner to eat.
  • Parking Lot Dining: Diners can settle in for al fresco dining if a restaurant’s parking lot is big enough, or if it can spare a reasonable patch of asphalt where people usually park. Restaurants can create makeshift patios with tables, chairs, and umbrella setups, all at least six feet apart.
  • Sidewalk Dining: Restaurants can extend their dining to their sidewalks that run along their premises. This can be achieved by bringing tables and chairs from the inside to serve as limited seating. While this may present a more limited option, it can act as a supplement to curbside and delivery services until full-capacity dining is allowed.
  • Stocking Up: Restaurants should be sure to stash away as much cleaning products as possible. Items like masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and hand soap are most important. However, it should be noted that these items can add up in operational costs, so preparing a budget for this is advised.
  • Keeping It Clean: No matter where diners are set, restaurant cleanliness is paramount, especially during a pandemic. Every table and chair should be wiped down following each party. Even if one person is served, cleaning the entire space afterward is important to limit the spread.

It’s also important to hold employees accountable for their own hygiene and cleanliness. This is done by requiring face masks to be worn throughout their entire shift and keeping their distance when serving guests. Gloves should also be worn at all times and changed out regularly.

While there is no known cure for COVID-19, keeping diners as safe as possible through the right approvals and cleaning methods helps to limit the spread and contact between other diners and servers.

About RMS Hospitality GroupAt RMS Hospitality Group, our expertly crafted policies are written specifically for the hospitality industry. We offer custom-tailored solutions to meet any venue’s specific needs. For more information, contact our knowledgeable experts today at (888) 359-8390.

Posted in: Restaurant Insurance

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