Heat Wave Best Practices

Last updated August 15, 2023

Texas’ heat wave is hurting restaurants and their employees at a critical time when local businesses need revenue to offset rising costs.  

  • According to OpenTable, Texas’ seated diner traffic has been down between 3 and 5% this summer compared to summer 2022. 
  • At the same time, food costs are up 24% and labor costs are up 13-23% compared to pre-pandemic levels. 
  • Restaurants need to maximize their sales to survive in today’s economic climate. 

The TRA continues to support restaurants during this time by sharing best practices and encouraging consumers to continue to dine local. 

Best Practices for Restaurants

  • First and foremost, make sure your team members are protected from heat illness.
    • Develop heat illness prevention protocols, and make sure your team members are trained to follow them.
    • OSHA has free best practices and resources restaurants can use here. Prevention protocols include drinking plenty of water, taking rest brakes, dressing for the heat, and building tolerance to heat over time.
    • Also, make sure your team members are trained to monitor themselves and others for signs of heat illness.
  • Make sure you comply with water conservation orders. For example, some cities are allowing restaurants to serve water to consumers only upon request. Misters, fountains, and irrigation may also be impacted.
  • Regularly inspect and maintain your cooling and HVAC equipment, and make sure you have a plan to respond to a breakdown.
  • Review your hours of operation and menus to ensure they make sense in this heat.
  • Leverage your to-go and beverage sales, including the opportunity to sell alcohol to-go.
  • Consider special marketing and promotions that respond to the heat wave.
  • Look for opportunities to make your business more resilient.
    • For outdoor patios, consider adding shade, fans, and misting hoses.
    • Streamline your to-go ordering experience.
    • Consider energy efficiency upgrades to offset skyrocketing energy bills. TRA members qualify for benefits from TRA Preferred Partner SPERE Corp—a Texas-based, family-owned business that has been offering customers innovative energy saving technology for over 50 years. More information here.
    • Before making a facilities upgrade, search for government grants, low-interest loans, and other energy savings programs that can help. Great places to start include the US Small Business Administration, the Texas Governor’s Office, and your local electricity provider.

Best Practices for Consumers

  • Support your local restaurants in whatever ways you are able. This includes dining out, but it can also include ordering a meal to-go, ordering catering, or buying a gift card or merchandise from a restaurant.
  • If you’re ordering to-go, try to order directly from a restaurant. This helps restaurants eliminate costs.
  • If you want water, just let your server know in case the restaurant is participating in a water conservation program.
  • Before heading out to a restaurant, check their current hours of operation because they may have shifted due to the ongoing heat wave.
  • Share your positive experiences on social media and online review platforms.
  • Please be kind and show grace to restaurant employees who are working hard to deliver a great experience no matter the temperature.