Portland and South Portland Maine recently passed ordinances expanding outdoor seating options for local restaurants. These respond to indications that coronavirus is less likely to spread outdoors. Soon, some local restaurants will be able to serve patrons :
- on sidewalks
- in parking lots or closed streets
- in on-street parklets.
Transitioning a Restaurant to Outdoor Dining
Outdoor dining isn’t for every restaurant. Depending on your cuisine, location, formality and clientele, you may choose not to serve al fresco. If you do, here are some things to consider.
- Check city rules and resources. Portland and South Portland city web sites have the ordinances and applications for permits and street closures.
- Up your cleaning game. During the COVID threat, you’re already doing extra cleaning and disinfecting. Outside adds new cleaning challenges: pollen, dust, litter and even insects.
- Keep it light – and smooth. Make sure there’s enough light for employees and customers to see well. Paint or tape the edge of irregular surface levels. Avoid loose cords and other trip hazards.
- Watch the skies. That includes the sun. Plan your seating to avoid excessive sun exposure during meal service, if possible. Summer thunderstorms can develop fast. Have a plan to quickly evacuate your dining area and secure umbrellas and other furniture. That will help avoid injury and damage.
- Beware of vehicles. Create barriers between diners and vehicles – including bikes and scooters that might be on sidewalks.
- Watch outdoor flames. Keep propane heaters, cooking equipment and other heat sources away from flammables like fabrics and awnings.
- Check your insurance. Many liquor liability policies only cover you “on premises.” Does that extend to a parking lot or street? The same with property insurance for your outdoor seating and fixtures. Ask your agent about your insurance coverage.
Do you own a Portland Maine area restaurant, cafe, food truck, brewery or other food service business? Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We’re local business owners, just like you. We offer a choice of Maine’s top business insurance companies. We’re independent and committed to you.