With another winter behind us, Kiwis will be itching to get back outside. Whether it is a barbeque on the deck or a night out at the Auckland viaduct, outdoor dining is a big part of our social lives.
Winter is traditionally a tough time for the hospitality sector, and with this year’s lockdowns and restrictions, the winter of 2020 may be one to forget. As the weather begins to warm up, bars and restaurants will be looking to attract patrons and pack out their premises.
The disruption to business has forced many business owners to look for creative ways to attract punters post-lockdown. One of these tactics has been making outdoor more attractive and comfortable.
“We have seen a significant increase in orders from bar and restaurant owners across the country”, observed Kelvin Davis, owner of the local N.Z. outdoor heating manufacturer, Kelray Heating. “Outdoor heating is a great way to expand the useable space of a venue”.
Davis has been supplying commercial outdoor heating products to N.Z. businesses for decades and believes many business owners are looking to ensure their venues can thrive during the pandemic era.
“We have seen many bars and restaurants overseas; in places like L.A. and the U.K., be restricted to outdoor dining only. With the virus being much less transmissible outdoors, and patrons feeling safer outside, a lot of N.Z. venue owners have been investing in their outdoor spaces”, says Davis.
The U.S. has already seen a massive surge in demand for outdoor heaters, with major retailers Amazon and Wayfair seeing a 70% increase in patio heater sales. While Davis has not seen any panic buying of Kelray’s products, sales of their heaters are notably higher, particularly among business owners. Davis believes outdoor dining may prove to be the solution for keeping the hospitality sector afloat, particularly with the uncertainty of new virus clusters.
“New Zealand bars and restaurants have had a little more time to prepare and observe what has worked overseas”, says Davis. “Social distanced outdoor dining appears to be the best solution, moving forward. It allows businesses to remain open while minimising the risk of transmission, even as clusters come and go”.