Article contributed by Paul Weintraub, American TropiCasual Furniture
Those who normally have outdoor furniture are well aware of the demands placed on tables and chairs used outdoors either seasonally or all year around depending on the climate. With the current restrictions, many restaurants without the usual outdoor seating are being forced to provide outdoor spaces in order to open and try to stay in business.
They have neither the experience or the financial means to correctly equip their operations, but time is of the essence for them if they want to survive. I note that many are simply taking their inside furniture and putting it outdoors under a tent. Some are buying the least expensive chairs and tables they can find since they feel this may be temporary. This is all understandable.
Using indoor furniture outdoors is a very expensive proposition in the long run. Upholstered chairs will absorb moisture in the fabric and padding and when returned indoors, they can be subject to mold and odors. Wooden tables and laminate tables often have plywood or MDF or flakeboard cores which will absorb moisture and swell even if the surface doesn’t look too bad for a few weeks.
But most laminates will begin to come unglued and varnishes and polyurethane finishes will start to degrade within weeks. Most of the older varnishes will not stand up well to alcohol either. So once again, when this furniture returns inside, it will be seriously degraded. I noted some unfinished picnic tables being used and these are a good temporary choice for some, but they are not finished, and they will be very hard to sanitize.
For those of us who are suppliers of outdoor furniture, we can be good resources for those not familiar with outdoor requirements. We have durable all-weather furniture that resists sanitizing and the elements. We have durable fencing that delineates the dining area and is made to withstand the elements. We have contract quality umbrellas that won’t blow over in gentle breezes or take off flying with an un-forecast storm.
Remember those cheap folding chairs or stacking chairs expose you to serious liability since they do not have commercial guarantees and are not made for restaurant use!