Thursday, September 25, 2014

Outside Dining:
Fall in Love with our Patio

It's usually about this time of year that we start to monitor the 10-day forecast and begin to make arrangements for tearing down the patio for the season. The day we start to tear it down is always a little bittersweet. On one hand, the day it's tore down usually signifies the end of fall and the inevitable approach of another harsh Illinois winter.

On the other hand, I breathe a little sigh of relief. We have a dozen tables on our outside dining area; some weekends we have 14 tables outside. Having 14 tables outside is more than most restaurants have tables period!

From a scheduling and staffing standpoint, it's almost like the weight of the world is removed from our shoulders. For us, we just are not busy enough consistently during the week to staff as if we could handle the 30 tables that are normally available to us, weather pending. Normally for us to handle 30 tables, we would want to staff 7, maybe 8 servers, and that doesn't even account for the support staff. The average expected business for weekday might require that we staff 3, maybe 4 servers.

So when we get surprised with a pretty busy shift, it can make for a few long hours during the summer. Everyone just has to work twice as hard. When those additional dozen outside tables go away, we can only get so busy inside. You know going into every shift the maximum amount of business you need to staff for. It makes scheduling and staffing infinitely easier.

However, we may have to wait a few weeks before our lives get easier, and that's okay with us. The 10-day forecast looks wonderful, putting us into the early part of October before we would even consider taking our outside away.  And who knows how long the weather will hold up after that?

So, we may have to muddle through another few weeks of tough decisions and headaches in regards to scheduling, but our customers can still enjoy our award-winning outside dining area. The weather will be perfect; the bugs are going away; a cool fall breeze is in the air. 

Make sure you stop in and take advantage of what is available to you now, "weather" it be for dinner, dessert or a glass of wine and a plate of cheese outside. The days of dining al fresco are dwindling, and with the crazy weather we have, who knows, we might be into the last week or two of patio availability!  Take advantage of it while you can.

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