Guide to Using a Dining Tent for Outdoor Dining in Chicago

dining tent at Chicago restaurant for outdoor dining

A dining tent, a tent for outdoor dining in Chicago, is a valid solution for restaurants in Chicagoland during the COVID-19 pandemic. These tents are an easy way to offer outdoor dining during inclement weather and temperatures, or to add dining space when indoor dining is allowed. (Indoor dining is not allowed during Phase IV.)

In either instance, a dining tent can be functional and create a unique atmosphere demanded by the times. A smaller dining tent can offer an intimate experience for guests and allow guests to still dine out in the Windy City. Larger dining tents are a way for patrons to enjoy each other’s company with adequate social distancing.

Fortunately, modern tents and climate control systems offer guests a chance to enjoy the outdoors. Clear tents bring the outdoors in and give patrons the chance to enjoy the city atmosphere. Tents with clear sidewalls offer character and unique dining experience. Climate control systems, heating and air conditioning, allow guests to enjoy their meal comfortably on the hottest and coolest Chicago days. Both options are an opportunity for guests to create unique outdoor dining spaces that are both comfortable and one-of-a-kind.

Things to Know Before Renting a Dining Tent

Fortunately, most tents can be installed on any surface, such as sod, asphalt, concrete, or over a patio or deck. It is important for restaurant owners and managers have a general idea of the exact location of the tent to ensure that the tent rental process is smooth. Any business renting a dining tent for outdoor dining in Chicago needs to have the following information when contacting a local Chicagoland tent rental company:

  • Ideal location for tent
  • Surface under the area where the dining tent is installed (i.e. sod, asphalt, concrete, etc.)
  • Size of tent(s) (if renting a single tent, make sure it is large enough to space tables six feet apart)
  • Entrance points (consider a tent with multiple entrance and exits to ensure patrons are not gathering around entrances and exits for proper social distancing)
  • If a clear tent or sidewalls are needed so patrons can enjoy the view

If there is a large area for tent installation, restaurants can also rent many small dining tents. This intimate atmosphere offers patrons an intimate and safe dining experience.

Tips for Dining Tents

  • Make sure there is adequate ventilation in the dining tent(s). (Proper ventilation is important for minimizing the risk of COVID-19.)
  • Consider heating for cold weather dining, such as a climate-controlled system, fireplace, or other unique heater.
  • Use a dining tent checklist to ensure that all equipment is rented and that all aspects of safety are considered.
  • Always consult the local health department and municipality for outdoor dining guidelines during COVID-19.
  • Stock up on disinfectants recommended by the Center for Disease Control, and keep them in a convenient location in the dining tent.
  • Make sanitizing easy for patrons with strategically placed sanitizing stations.
  • Choose tables and chairs that are easy to disinfect.
  • Regularly disinfect all tables, chairs, door knobs, and other commonly contacted surfaces.
  • Know the capacity guidelines for the dining tent.
  • Rent a large tent with adequate space that allows proper social distancing of tables and patrons.
  • If renting a single large tent, consider using barriers to ensure the safety of staff and patrons.
  • Have a face covering plan that is clearly communicated to staff and patrons. Exhibit all signs required by the local health department in convenient locations.
  • Use signage to safely communicate the flow of the dining tent (i.e. entrances, exits, etc.) and any additional ordering or dining directions.

Dining Tent Resources

Illinois Restaurant Association List of Resources

Illinois Restaurant Association Phase IV Information

Center for Disease Control Disinfecting and Sanitizing Tips

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