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January 31, 2022Best In Tents

If your restaurant has an outdoor dining space or a patio, you probably already know that is precious real estate, especially during warm weather. However, did you know that you could be cashing in on that space year-round? All you need is an outdoor dining tent and a safe, reliable heat source. Keep reading to learn more.

Make the Most of Your Existing Space

The Covid pandemic wreaked havoc on most businesses, but none were hit harder than the hospitality industry. To stay in business, restaurants had to figure out how to serve customers and stay compliant with local and state regulations. Fortunately, many cities have eased rules on patio or parking lot space usage. That’s why heated outdoor tents have proven to be a smart investment for many restaurants. You have probably seen photos on social media of these outdoor dining experiences. It’s actually become very fashionable to offer outdoor dining during winter months. Some restaurants have even found that outdoor dining reservations have become more in-demand than indoor options. Patio tents for winter are perfect for family dining, as children have the freedom to move around. It’s also ideal for a romantic dinner for two or for friends who want to catch up. Advantages include:

  • Extending the outdoor dining season
  • Enabling diners to socially distance
  • Creating a unique and desirable dining experience
  • Providing family-friendly dining
  • Additional revenue

Which Outdoor Heaters Should Restaurants Use?

Tents for Restaurants & Bars

Propane-fueled Heaters

One option for outdoor restaurant tents is propane-fueled heaters. Propane heat uses propane gas to heat up appliances, fireplaces, and space heaters. Propane gas is ideal for tent use because it is colorless and odorless. Propane heat does have its disadvantages. Your upfront investment may be higher than electric space heaters, and you’ll have to purchase fuel for refills. The advantages of propane include: 

  • Environmentally friendly: Propane is known to be "green" energy and is an approved alternative fuel by the EPA.
  • Affordability: Propane is more cost-effective and efficient than electric heat.
  • Comfort: The heat from propane is warmer than that from electric heaters.
  • Efficiency: Propane heaters send out blasts of heat in shorter intervals.
  • Versatility: Propane heaters are portable and can be used in various settings.

Infrared Heaters

Infrared heaters offer another solid option to heat patio tents for winter. These heaters emit invisible infrared light that is absorbed by your body. The heat from infrared heaters feels a lot like the sun’s rays. One consideration for infrared heat is safety. Because the coils that give off heat can get extremely hot, you’ll have to make sure to keep an eye on young children. Another disadvantage is that it only heats a space as long as it’s running; that means it needs to run continuously. Some of the advantages of infrared heaters include:

  • Speed: As soon as you turn them, infrared heaters feel like a blast of warm sunshine.
  • Pollutant free: Infrared heaters don’t emit pollutants, such as carbon combustion or toxic byproducts.
  • Safety: Infrared heat does not require potentially dangerous open flames or fuel lines.
  • Ease of use: Just plug it in without worries about refueling or maintenance.
  • Efficiency: A single heater can quickly heat up to 1,000 square feet of space.
  • Cost-effective: When you flip the switch, 100% of the heat is transferred to your tent space.

Creative Outdoor Dining Ideas in Winter

Outdoor Dining Idea in Winter

After you’ve ensured that your local jurisdiction allows outdoor tent dining, it’s time to start planning. First, you’ll have to measure and determine what size and/or how many tents you’ll need. Just like with indoor dining, every seat for outdoor dining is a potential revenue source, so you’ll want to be strategic in your planning. You’ll also want to reassure your customers by letting them know that tents will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between every dining reservation. The good news is that now you get to be creative! Consider all of the different types of dining experiences you could provide. Some examples of themed outdoor tent dining include:

  • Igloo experience: Make your tent dining room into a winter wonderland. Keep the color scheme primarily white, with cozy blankets and pillows for comfort. Use outdoor icicle string lights to create an even more winter ambiance.
  • Holiday fun: Take advantage of the holidays for fun decor. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Valentine's Day typically fall during cooler temperatures in most regions, making outdoor tent dining ideal. You’ll have no problem finding seasonal decorations to make your tent festive and fun.
  • Dinner for two: Soft lighting, romantic music, and an elegant table spread will make a perfect date-night destination. Whether it’s an anniversary or a first date, a romantic tent dinner date will leave a lasting impression.
  • Birthday party: If Covid keeps you from throwing a party for your children, the next best thing is a family tent party. Make their day special with balloons, streamers, and cake. Just be sure that your staff is ready to sing a boisterous, happy birthday chorus!

Benefits of Outdoor Winter Dining for Restaurants

Clearly, investing in an outdoor dining tent provides not only revenue benefits it also can create a unique customer experience that will improve brand loyalty. Your customers will appreciate the fact that you care enough and are continuously innovating to win their business.


American Tent is the leading bar and restaurant tent manufacturer in the United States. If your restaurant is interested in adding an outdoor dining area in winter, please contact us. We’re happy to help!

Tony Ehrbar's headshot

Tony Ehrbar

Owner & CEO

Tony's entrepreneurial spirit is woven into the fabric of American Tent (an Inc 5000 company), shaped by his experience running a successful event venue & tent rental service. His recognition as the Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2019 is a testament to his impact & dedication to his community. As the Co-founder and CEO of Renegade Plastics, Tony is leading initiatives in the tent industry to integrate eco-friendly, recyclable materials. Contributing as a board member for the Advanced Textiles Association (ATA) & the Green Bay Area Public Schools Foundation and being featured by Entrepreneur, Oracle, & Modern Weddings, Tony plays a pivotal role in enhancing the growth and success of the textile industry.

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