May 7

Keep Your Restaurant Team Cool During The Hot Summer Months


Each Summer Brings a New Heat Record. It’s Up to Management To Ensure Teams Say Cool, Safe, and Productive While Open for Business

Working in a restaurant is already hot. So, when it hits 80 degrees or more outside, your restaurant staff is cooking—I mean that figuratively, but they’re probably literally cooking, too.

Between the heat of the kitchen, the hustle of the dining room, and the pressure of a busy service, your restaurant team is going to need some cool relief, especially in the face of record heat.

Keeping your restaurant crew comfortable is an important consideration and essential to maintaining morale and productivity while avoiding service interruptions.

With just a few months until summer officially starts, right now is the best time to start planning how you’ll help your staff beat the heat.

To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of tried-and-true tricks and other suggestions to stay cool!

6 Ways You Can Help Your Restaurant Crew Stay Cool

  1. Check Your Ventilation and Cooling Systems
    When it rains, it pours—and when it’s hot, your HVAC starts acting up. Do yourself a favor and ensure your kitchen and dining room are well-ventilated and that your air conditioner or fans are functioning correctly.

    Getting ahead of a maintenance check ensures you have time to repair things if you catch anything suspicious. Waiting until you desperately need a fix, or until something breaks during a heatwave, could cost you more money in disrupted business.

    Don’t forget your patio, either—there are plenty of ways you can ensure a cooler outdoor environment, transforming it into an oasis for your FOH staff and customers alike.
  2. Review Your Uniforms and Dress Code
    Whether you provide a full uniform or only supply aprons, switching out heavy fabrics for lighter, breathable fabrics can make a world of difference for your staff. Look for moisture-wicking materials, like polyester, that can help keep your team cool and dry.

    If you don’t provide a uniform but have a dress code, review it to ensure your team can wear practical clothes for the season. Breathable and airy garments will allow your team to feel more comfortable during the hottest shifts.
  3. Take Breaks Seriously
    Working in a restaurant is basically a sport. Your team needs breaks to avoid overheating, especially during the busiest hours on the hottest days. Even in a kitchen with AC, things get ridiculously hot.

    If you don’t already have one in place, create a procedure for taking breaks. If possible, set up a dedicated cooling area where your staff can relax and refresh—restaurant folk have repurposed the walk-in for cooling stations for generations now. A comfortable break area with fans or AC can provide much-needed respite.
  4. Encourage Open Communication
    When the weather apps suggest a heatwave, create an environment for open communication. Your team should feel comfortable discussing their needs regarding the heat.

    Encourage them to speak up if they’re struggling with the temperature. Offer a plan for how you will deal with the heat (uniforms, breaks, menu changes, etc.). Provide resources on staying hydrated and fabrics that work best in hot weather.
  5. Provide Some Self-Care Materials
    Show your team that you care about their well-being by preparing some self-care essentials, like investing in cooling towels or simply freezing dishtowels for your team to use as needed. Place mini fans in high-traffic areas, and if you have a patio, provide some sun protection.

    You can go even further and ensure some cool treats for your team to enjoy during their breaks to ensure they’re cooling down.
  6. Get Into The Season!
    Embrace the summer vibes! Consider incorporating seasonal menu items that don’t necessarily need heat to be cooked and decreasing the time your oven, grill, or stove runs. This can help keep your kitchen temperature more manageable.

    Honestly, many customers are looking for something fresher and lighter during the hottest days, so getting into menus with dishes like ceviche, salads, and gazpacho might be just the thing to keep your team and customers cool.

Summer can be a busy and challenging time for restaurants, but keeping your team cool and comfortable can make all the difference.

Implementing a plan and getting ahead of upcoming heat waves is essential to helping your crew stay cool, productive, and have a positive experience during the hot summer months.

Remember, if you’re hot, there’s a cook who’s ten times hotter working over an open flame.

About the author


Ashley McNally likes to cook, loves to bake, and is always dreaming of her next meal. With over 13 years of experience working in various roles within a restaurant — McNally has made a home in hospitality.


You may also like

How To Manage The Feeling of Burnout

How To Manage The Feeling of Burnout

Hire Faster, Hire Better.