How to Set Up a Stellar Restaurant Patio Enclosure in Chicago

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Restaurant patio enclosures are a great outdoor dining solution for restaurants in Chicago. These clear tents are a win-win for restaurants and patrons, allowing diners to enjoy a safe dining experience and restaurants to stay open during the pandemic. Fortunately, renting and setting up a restaurant patio enclosure is a fairly easy process.

How to Rent and Set Up a Patio Enclosure

Evaluate patio space.

The first step of renting a restaurant patio enclosure comes with an evaluation of the patio space. Owners and managers should determine the size of the patio and the approximate tent size needed for adequate spacing of tables. These enclosures should be the right size to meet current capacity guidelines for restaurants, and large enough for future changes to capacity rules.

Restaurant patio enclosures can be installed on almost any surface. When renting a tent, owners and managers should contact a tent rental company with the following information: address, size of tent, whether any lighting or tables are needed, and surface under tent.

Determine the best ways to control the traffic and air flow of the enclosure.

Controlled traffic flow and adequate air flow are two important parts of setting up a safe restaurant patio enclosure. Restaurants can use signage and ropes to direct patrons in socially-distanced patterns. Owners and managers should also consider where to place entrances and exits to maintain a safe traffic flow.

Air flow is another vital part of a safe dining experience. Restaurant owners and managers should consider how to ventilate the space and maintain a comfortable environment. There are discrete climate-controlled systems and fans available for rent that can keep these spaces comfortable, even on Chicago’s coldest and hottest days.

Think about table spacing and equipment.

The next step is to consider table spacing and equipment needed for the dining tent. Restaurant owners and managers should choose tables, chairs, and equipment that is easy to disinfect. These items can be utilized from the indoor dining room or rented from a rental company. Tables and chairs should reflect the unique style of the restaurant.

Tables and/or patrons should be spaced at least 6 feet apart in the restaurant patio enclosure. Restaurant owners and managers can also consider using barriers to ensure the safety of staff and patrons.

Lighting is another concern in a restaurant patio enclosure. Restaurants can use free-standing lighting that doesn’t need to be mounted or install adequate lighting on the building. When choosing lighting, owners and managers should consider the desired atmosphere. There is tent lighting available for almost any atmosphere, such as lamp posts, up lighting, and string lighting.

Establish protocols for sanitation.

In addition to tables and chairs, frequently touched surfaces (i.e. door knobs and handles, restroom towel dispensers, faucets, etc.) should be disinfected with products recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Restaurant owners and managers should train all staff on sanitation protocols, and ensure that they are consistently followed.

Tips for Setting Up a Restaurant Patio Enclosure

  • Restaurant owners and managers should utilize a dining tent checklist to ensure that all equipment is rented and that all aspects of safety are considered.
  • Disinfectants and sanitizers should be kept in a convenient location for staff members.
  • Sanitizing products should be placed by all the entrances and exits for patrons, and in easy-to-access locations.
  • Stay up-to-date with dining guidelines during COVID-19, which change regularly as the situation evolves.
  • Establish a face covering plan that is clearly communicated to staff and patrons. Post all signs required by the local health department in convenient locations.

Dining Tent Resources

Illinois Restaurant Association List of Resources https://www.illinoisrestaurants.org/page/COVID19Resources

Illinois Restaurant Association Phase IV Information https://www.illinoisrestaurants.org/page/StatePhase4Reopening

Center for Disease Control Disinfecting and Sanitizing Tips

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html

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