New York outdoor dining street scape

Expanding your hospitality business with outdoor dining? Here’s some food for thought

From pop-up bars to carpark dining, Australia’s hospitality industry is turning lemons into lemonade and proving just how adaptable we are as a nation. In Melbourne, the outdoor dining experiment has been credited with helping 9,500 restaurants and cafes stay afloat amid COVID-19 restrictions and is currently in talks to be extended. Applications for outdoor dining permits are flooding in and being approved quickly, bringing the buzz back to the streets after a long dry spell. If you’re in the hospitality industry and hoping to get back into the swing of things, we encourage you to ensure that you’re well prepared for the future before joining the feeding frenzy.

New York-inspired outdoor dining embraces Melbourne’s streets

Late last year, the Victorian Government announced $290 million to help businesses ‘reimagine’ their operations, bringing a New York-inspired dining and culture revitalisation back to Victoria when lockdown restrictions began to ease.

The scheme gave $5,000 grants for hospitality businesses to cover the cost of outdoor dining equipment, such as umbrellas, furniture and heaters in order to transform the streets, parks and gardens of Melbourne. Hospitality venues are utilising the footpaths and laneways adjacent to their establishment, serving customers in a way that ensures maximum social distancing. Many bars and restaurants have opted for comfortable seating and covered canopies to welcome customers to a new, adaptive way of dining.

What are the hazards and risks of outdoor dining?

Expanding your business operations to outdoor spaces will come with additional hazards and risks that could leave you in a pickle if you’re unprepared. Outdoor restaurants and bars are much more susceptible to the harsh wrath of mother nature, and if you happen to be in Victoria, you might want to start super-gluing your furniture down ASAP.

Moving operations outdoors can also reduce your control over the safety of guests and their belongings. Often a hot spot for pick pockets and shifty thieves, outdoor bars and restaurants have an increase in passing footfall that can swoop phones from tables and bags from chairs before anybody bats an eyelid. Ensuring that customers are well aware of the possibility and providing prevention can avoid business liability and legal disputes.

As a business owner, you have a duty of care to your staff, clients and members of the public, ensuring that they are as safe as possible at all times, and that you regularly carry out risk assessments and health and safety checks. Unfortunately, expanding to outdoor dining and drinking can expose clients and employees to a whole new range of external threats that you need to consider. For example, if a patron is injured while outside from a slipping on a wet floor, falling over a piece of rubbish or stepping on broken glass, you could be held accountable. Ensuring tight safety procurations can become much more difficult when you aren’t inside the comfort of a restaurant.

Do I need to change my insurance cover?

If you already have, or are in the process of, expanding your hospitality business outdoors, it doesn’t mean you need a whole new range of cover. The insurance basics will still need to be in place: public liability, employer’s liability, product liability, contents and business interruption.

However, you’re probably going to need to extend your cover to shield outdoor facilities, new assets and contents, protection against harsh weather and any additional changes to the way you operate. Not only will you need to have your liability extended to cover these changes, but you should revisit the sum insured to ensure that you’re not under-insured for all the new equipment and furniture you’ve acquired.

How we can help

At Allsure, we couldn’t be prouder of how our local hospitality companies have persevered and adapted throughout the pandemic. Since the start, we’ve helped businesses across Victoria, Tasmania and wider Australia to ensure they have the correct cover in place to suit changes to their offerings and services. We can package up the right insurance protection for your business so that you can continue to protect your employees, customers and your livelihood. Contact us today to find out more.