5 Big Tips for Setting Up a Heated Outdoor Dining Space Per Dining Restrictions in Illinois

restaurant tent that complies with dining restrictions in illinois

Heated outdoor dining is a must when dining restrictions in Illinois do not allow indoor dining AND a valuable way to add additional seating when it is allowed. Patio enclosures and tents add style and additional seating to restaurants and bars—and can be set up to comply with dining restrictions in Illinois.   

Heated Outdoor Dining Tips

Determine whether a single tent or multiple tents are the best solution.

Chicago restaurants and bars have a few different options for heated outdoor dining. They can choose a single tent or patio enclosure, or install multiple tents on a patio, sidewalk, or adjoining space. A big tent can serve as large dining room with space for social distancing, or smaller tents can be utilized for multiple single parties. In some areas, the city of Chicago and some cities in Chicagoland are allowing restaurants and bars to put tents and enclosures on sidewalks, lawns, and other areas. Clear tents are available so patrons can enjoy the city or scenic views.

Choose the right size enclosure.

The size of the tent or enclosure depends on several factors. Tents and enclosures should be large enough for a single party, or big enough for multiple parties with adequate social distancing. All tables and chairs should be spaced per local dining restrictions in Illinois.

If the patio enclosure is a way to add additional seating, the enclosure should fit the patio and allow for an easy transition between indoor and heated outdoor dining. (Smaller walkway tents are also available so patrons can move between the spaces comfortably.) A tent rental professional can recommend the right tents or enclosures that fits the outdoor dining space and tent function.

Maintain ventilation and comfort.

Heated outdoor dining can be a challenge. Adequate ventilation is an important part of heated outdoor dining, as per dining restrictions in Illinois. It’s also important to keep guest comfortable, even on the coldest Illinois days. Fortunately, there are fans and heaters available for rent that can fit both purposes.

Doors and sidewalls are also available to help keep the tent or enclosure comfortable for patrons. Tent doors should be regularly disinfected for the safe and health of staff and patrons. Some sidewalls are clear to brighten the space and enhance the heated outdoor dining experience. Lighting can also be added to keep the space bright and inviting, or create a comfortable atmosphere.

Know local heated outdoor dining guidelines.

Dining restrictions in Illinois are updated regularly to address the ever-changing pandemic. It’s important for Chicago restaurants and bars to know the requirements of their region and municipality.

Signage and occupancy limits are key points of the restrictions. It’s important for restaurants to determine the occupancy of the space; it is typically determined by the number of patrons that can be seated while properly social distanced. Some restrictions may set an additional limit of occupants in a space. Signs need to be posted as directed, and masking requirements should be followed as directed by the local dining restrictions.

Establish regular protocols.

When setting up a heated outdoor dining space, Chicago restaurants and bars should establish protocols for cleaning and use approved cleaners and disinfectants. Chairs and tables should be hard surfaces that can easily be wiped down; if needed, both items are available for rent from local Chicago equipment rental companies. Sanitation stations should also be established, and disinfectants should be placed strategically for easy access by staff and patrons.

Illinois Dining Restriction Resources

Illinois Restaurant Association State of Illinois Reopening Guidelines and Mitigation https://www.illinoisrestaurants.org/page/StatePhase4Reopening

City of Chicago Reopening Website


Center for Disease Control and Prevention Considerations for Restaurants and Bar Operators


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