A Restaurant Owner’s Guide to Cooling Indoors and Outdoors

Summer is in full swing, which means restaurants have the potential to turn into an uncomfortable furnace for both staff and guests. This isn’t a good situation to be in, as staff will be less productive, and guests are less likely to have a positive experience. Luckily, you don’t need to accept the summer’s unforgiving heat, especially if you implement the following strategies.

Keeping Cool Indoors

Air Conditioning Units

Any restaurant designer worth working with will have recommended having a heating and air conditioning (HVAC) unit installed, which is the most efficient way to keep internal temperatures at a comfortable level. There are two different types of air conditioning units: ducted and non-ducted. In a restaurant, it’s more efficient to have a ducted HVAC installed as it’s quieter and more efficient.

If you’ve already got a HVAC unit installed but it’s not performing properly, then make sure you’re keeping up with regular maintenance. Failing that, outsource the task to a commercial HVAC maintenance services company, who will bring the system back into working order.


Restaurant windows are an easy way to allow airflow into the restaurant, so make sure they’re all working and crack them open. If possible, have bi-folding windows installed, which you can open up to offer an alternative to sitting outdoors. When you’ve got the windows open, it’s important to ensure the HVAC system is turned off, otherwise, you’re flushing your money down the drain.

Upholstery Choices

The materials used for upholstery play a vital role in keeping guests cool. Typically, this means steering clear of heavy wool, leather, and vinyl because these will irritate the skin and absorb heat. Instead, you should go for either polyester or cotton in a light color, which will help keep the surface of the furniture cool.

Eco-Friendly Options

Every restaurant owner should strive to be more eco-friendly in 2023, which involves finding ways to reduce the carbon footprint. For example, depending on the location of the restaurant, solar panels can help with operating the HVAC system. Additionally, ensuring the property has enough insulation will help to better manage the internal temperature.

Cooling Outdoor Guests

Outdoor Seating Areas

If you’ve got the space, installing an outdoor seating area is a fantastic way to attract guests during the summer. However, if you’re attempting to place furniture on the street, you will likely need to gain the relevant state permissions.


Even though restaurant guests enjoy sitting outdoors during the summer months, it doesn’t mean they want to burn during the hottest points of the day. Therefore, make sure you supply parasols, which gives guests the option to sit in the shade.

Awnings and Pergolas

Even when it’s warm outside, there’s a good chance of rain, which won’t put people off wanting to sit outside. Therefore, you should erect a pergola or awning as a means of shelter. However, the sides need to remain open to allow for airflow.

Outdoor Furniture Choices

When you’re shopping around for outdoor furniture, you have to consider how much heat they’ll absorb from the sun. For example, metal chairs and tables will become extremely hot to the touch, which could burn a guest if they sit down wearing shorts or a skirt. Therefore, you may want to consider plastic-framed chairs and wooden tables.

You will also want to choose lightweight furniture that can easily be stacked. After all, your staff needs to easily set up the area and bring them back inside at the end of the day. If the furniture is too heavy, this will cause them too much unnecessary discomfort in the heat.

A Note on Keeping Staff Cool

Your staff needs to be kept cool so they can provide your guests with excellent experiences. Even though heat comes with the territory, there are ways you can make life a little more bearable during the summer, including:

  • Providing lightweight and light-colored uniforms.
  • Installing screens on kitchen doors so you can open them without letting flies in.
  • Encouraging all staff to drink plenty of water.
  • Providing a shaded outdoor area for staff to enjoy their breaks.
  • Turning any unnecessary electronics and heating equipment off.
  • Creating a lighter menu to attract customers and make cooking easier.

Restaurant staff and guests deserve to be comfortable while inside and outside of the building, which can be tricky during the summertime heat. If you can make the small changes outlined above, you’ll attract more guests and your staff’s productivity will increase, which will in turn improve guest experiences.