Question: Winter’s coming! How do I get my restaurant ready?

Answer: Winter brings a lot of challenges with it: higher energy costs, power outages, accessibility issues—and let’s face it, for many restaurant owners, winter means endless shoveling, salting, shoveling, salting…

To help you get ready for the season, we’ve put together a list of tips that will help keep your energy costs low and (may) help you avoid serious hassles if a big storm hits.

Prep for bad winter weather in advance

  • Find out who’s responsible for keeping your heating equipment in good working order. Is it your landlord? You? Put a plan in place to deal with heat outages.
  • Check your insurance to see what’s covered in the event of a major winter storm.
  • Determine whether you need to keep a portable heater (or two) around so a furnace/boiler malfunction doesn’t completely shut your business down.
  • Keep the contact information for your heating contractor, plumber, fire department, insurance agent and building owner close at hand, both at the restaurant and off-site (like on your cellphone). Make sure a staff person has access to the information as well, just in case you aren’t available.
  • Have an employee communication plan in place to alert staff about closures and re-opening.
  • Ensure you have sufficient snow-removal equipment (shovels, snowblowers and salt/sand) or have contracted to have snow removal done. Even if you are paying a snow removal service, you may still have to shovel during times of heavy snow.

Keep energy costs down

  • Seal windows with caulking and weatherstrip doors, where possible, to avoid drafts.
  • Replace furnace/heater filters on a regular basis.
  • Install an air door on high-traffic entryways. At the very least, hang a heavy curtain over your main door to reduce drafts and keep your customers comfortable.
  • If you haven’t already done so, install a programmable thermostat. Stick to a set-back/set-forward schedule, which will reduce the heat in your restaurant when it’s not occupied. A good guideline for temperature setting is 20 degrees during business hours and 15 degrees when the restaurant is empty. Remember: reducing the temperature by one degree will save you one percent in energy costs.
  • Consider hanging heavy curtains in front of drafty or poorly-insulated windows. For windows that are well-insulated, open the curtains and allow sunshine to heat the room.

How do you get your restaurant ready for winter? Share your tips in the comment section.

Image credit: Mackinac Cowgirl