Best Practices for Outdoor Property for Restaurants, Bars, and Taverns

In today’s competitive environment for restaurants, bars, and taverns (RBT), outdoor space has become a business prerequisite. Whether it’s a porch, patio, deck, sidewalk cafe, or even a beer garden, customers increasingly expect the option of dining and socializing outside. With this expansion beyond the physical building comes additional costs and responsibilities to the owner. An insurance agent experienced with the hospitality industry can be an invaluable resource when evaluating these increased exposures.

Tips for the Perfect Outdoor Dinning Space


  • All outdoor property should be held to the same standards of care as any other part of the premises. It must be thoroughly inspected for any liability hazards. Furniture, fire pits, heaters, fans, canopies, umbrellas, railings, decorations, glassware, and more must all be considered for their potential to cause bodily injury and/or property damage. The floors, decks, sidewalks, stairs, doorways and walkways must be free from trip/fall hazards just the same as RBT interior spaces.
  • All outdoor property must be secured from the weather and theft. Items should not be subject to damage or being dislodged by rain or high winds. Awnings, umbrellas, and freestanding sidewalk signs have been particularly susceptible to property damage claims during storms, while theft of property, especially stock, can occur during down or off hours. Please note that wind coverage can be excluded or subject to separate deductibles in some states and coastal areas.
  • If property is left outside during cold weather, it must be winterized. Outdoor plumbing should be insulated, as well as turned off and drained to prevent pipes from freezing when seasonally removed from service. Roof areas need to be inspected for wear, particularly if a roof deck was in operation, to prevent frost heaving which can cause water damage to inside premises. Gutters, downspouts, and scuppers should be cleared of debris, and any trees or shrubs should be checked for health and/or sturdiness.
  • While in operation, outdoor spaces can have increased staffing requirements, some of which may be seasonal, which may necessitate additional hiring and training. Also, the Workers Compensation policy for the RBT establishment should be reviewed to confirm coverage for these changes.

Adding outdoor property and space for any hospitality establishment represents a significant investment. It also can cause a material change in business operations. A quality RBT insurance program, delivered by an experienced agent, provides updated protection and addresses any increased coverage requirements.

*Patriot National Hospitality is an insurance program distributed through the licensed insurance agency Patriot Underwrites, Inc.

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