PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The new restrictions on indoor gatherings are putting the spotlight back on outdoor dining, and tent rentals are up even as restaurants face an uncertain future.
Daryl Sensenig, sales team leader at Tents for Rent in Lancaster, said tent rentals used to be pretty seasonal, with rentals wrapping up by Labor Day. But that was before the pandemic. Now, it’s becoming necessary, especially for restaurants.
“Both in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, especially, we’ve been doing a lot of tents for restaurants and try to carry them through this time. It's a challenge for them because it’s an added expense, but it’s a way they can stay open,” Sensenig said.
Brian Hensel, owner of D&B Events in Chalfont, Bucks County, said rentals are up. But the question is whether people will even go out to eat.
“Now, as we get deeper into the fall months and approaching the winter months, the prospect of eating outside is becoming more and more difficult for patrons because of the restrictions that have to be in place for health and safety guidelines for each county level,” Hensel said.
Sensenig said their busy season has extended further into the fall, and for Thanksgiving, many are looking for small tents.
Hensel said while his business is still thriving, the restaurants he works with are struggling. And he says that is painful.
“We work with these folks and help to keep them afloat because when economics goes into it, we need them to stimulate the economy, and quality of life. And if they stay afloat, then we can stay afloat too,” Hensel said.
Both say heaters are now standard for anyone planning outdoor seating with enclosed spaces, whether that's a restaurant or a family planning to take their Thanksgiving dinner outside.
Hensel said however, some restaurants may not be able to survive in this climate.
“I’m worried that restaurateurs are gonna say, ‘Hey we have to shutter,’ and when that happens we can have some serious problems economically,” he said.