As the summer weather arrives, it's a good opportunity to tidy outside space for your customers to dine. A comfortable outside dining area is a great selling point when customers are looking for somewhere to eat in the sunshine. However, just like inside your restaurant, it's important your outside dining space is safe for guests. Here is what you can do to make sure your space is up to code:
1. Do a risk assessment
Before you even start looking at different safety features for your outside dining space, you need to determine whether it's actually safe to have a dining area outside.
It's not safe to have a dining area at the front of your restaurant if you have a busy main road running next to where your diners will be eating. Road accidents and exhaust fumes are a potential health hazard. Children will likely want to play and mess around - it's a dangerous risk next to busy traffic.
Of course it's profitable to have a comfortable outside dining area for your guests but if it's unsafe to do so, you'll be at risk of compensation claims if someone gets hurt.
Assess the area and judge whether your dining area is safe for diners. If it is - great! Make sure to install any safety features or signs you think will benefit the overall safety of the area, such as: 'be careful of uneven ground' or 'mind the step.' It's better to be safe than sorry.
2. Provide adequate cover
When you're looking for ways on how to make your outside dining space safe for summer, you need to ensure there is adequate cover over where your diners will be eating.
Too much sun exposes your guests to sunburn and possible sunstroke. If you're unlucky enough to get some rainfall, overhead cover can reduce the chance of your diners' meals being interrupted - it's not always possible to move them indoors.
3. Check outside furniture is functional and safe
If you're bringing out furniture from storage, you need to inspect it thoroughly before it can be used by your guests. Rust and age weakens the strength of furniture and increases the chance of breakages. You don't want a table to break as your diners are half way through a meal.
Inspect your furniture before setting it up. It doesn't take long to check. If there are issues, then you can quickly get replacements.
4. Use slip resistant mats
Outside dining areas have more risk of wet and uneven floors. Rainfall from the night before or broken concrete flags are risk hazards that can cause slips, trips and falls.
Slip resistant mats on slippery floor surfaces greatly reduces the chance of someone falling and getting injured. Your guests should be able to eat without risk of injury and so should your staff.
5. Regularly check on your guests outside
Servers should regularly check on outside diners. Inside the restaurant, it's not always easy to hear if there have been any accidents outside. If someone accidentally breaks a glass, this should be cleaned up immediately, rather than waiting for a diner to alert a server.
Before food service begins, ask one of your more senior food servers or managers to regularly check on guests outside.
6. Avoid displaying fresh flowers
This may seem like a strange recommendation but it's a worthwhile consideration.
Fresh flowers look beautiful and help decorate the outside of your dining area. However fresh flowers attract insects. You can't control the minds of bees and wasps but you can reduce the risk of them hanging around near your guests by removing flowers.
Instead of flowers, use outdoor lights to decorate your outside area.
7. Think about lighting
As it gets darker outside, candles won't provide adequate lighting for your guests and employees to see where they're walking.
Before you start inviting guests to eat outside your restaurant, test your outdoor lights to see how bright they are. It's understandable you don't want your lights to be too bright as they will ruin the relaxing atmosphere you want to create for your guests. However, you need to find the right balance so your guests can see where they're walking and still have a good time.
8. Wear slip resistant shoes
Aristocrat III (2031) polished leather oxford equipped with slip resistance technology
To ensure your servers and bar staff are safe whilst they work outside, they need to wear slip resistant shoes.
Shoes with slip resistance tread are designed to resist against slippery floors. Waiters and waitresses walking on wet or greasy floors are better protected when wearing slip resistant work shoes.
Employees who fall or trip at work are endangering their own health and the safety of your guests. Make sure your staff are wearing appropriate footwear (high street shoes don't offer the same benefits as slip resistant work shoes - see the proof!).
We've created guides to help you find the best shoes for your teams:
- Best slip resistant work shoes for chefs: chefs need comfortable shoes that can be easily wiped clean and protect their toes from falling objects.
- Best slip resistant work shoes for servers: waitresses and waiters need smart, light weight and comfortable shoes for their long shifts on their feet.
- Best slip resistant work shoes for bar staff: when working around glass, your bar staff need protective shoes that will defend against glass and reduce the chance of them slipping on spilt drinks.
The difference between high street shoes and work shoes
There are many benefits to buying a pair of work shoes rather than buying from the high street. See what happened when we tested a high street trainer against our popular Old School Low Rider IV: