Restaurants and Bars Leveraging Uncertain times and Weather Conditions to Create a Unique Dining Experience

It is an understatement to say that 2020 was a year of taking the challenges that were placed before us and using them as opportunities to explore a different way of doing things, to pivot in a new direction in order to stay in the game. All the new regulations, restrictions, lockdowns and curfews issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, have placed some monumental challenges on business operations in the hospitality industry including restaurants, bars and retail stores. This becomes even more of a hurdle for those establishments located in areas that experience cold weather conditions during winter months.

One of the creative concepts that restaurants and bars are exploring to not only to capitalize on cold weather conditions but to expand seating availability during the pandemic is look beyond their interior capacity and turn to the great outdoors. Cold-weather dining is not a new concept by any means, social destinations such as ski resorts, holiday markets and winter festivals all over the world have been offering these types of memorable experiences for years. During the pandemic the outdoor dining experience can provide the opportunity for a more controlled environment than eating in the traditional open dining area. This also becomes a long term investment strategy that can be leveraged for years to come.

Providing an enjoyable and memorable outdoor experience for customers includes the use of outdoor heaters, firepits and enclosures such as tents, inflatables, heated domes, yurts and other portable structures that block the wind and cold. Knowing what type and size of enclosure is best suited for a particular business will depend on things like location, environmental conditions and budget. It will take some research and include working with your local city officials to determine what is allowed by code and if any permitting is required. Other important details to consider when creating an outdoor dining experience that is memorable, fun and comfortable for everyone is to create the perfect ambiance by adding string lights, background music, a winter themed menu featuring warm cocktails and hearty soups and stews, seating focused around a firepit or fireplace, and warm uniforms and proper footwear to keep waitstaff safe in the winter conditions.

Check our Commercial Real Estate listing page to search for sale and for lease properties to suit your business needs.  Prefer some assistance from a commercial broker/realtor? Q4 Real Estate has dedicated professionals ready to answer your questions and help you find your next commercial real estate property in the Cedar Rapids Metro area.

For more helpful tips and practical advice geared toward the hospitality industry including retail and restaurants, grab a copy of the “Winter Dining Guide” published by Streetsense.

Photo courtesy of “” and article modeled after “Outdoor Winter Dining: Strategies for the Pandemic and Beyond,” found on “”