If your restaurant has a fireplace, you should certainly take advantage of this feature and start lighting fires for guests to enjoy. Who does not enjoy eating and relaxing in front of a crackling fire? Some guests may show up just because of the ambiance! But while burning a fire in your restaurant is a great idea, it does also come with a few risks. Here are four things to do, before starting that fire, to help minimize the risks.
1. Have the Chimney Cleaned
Chimneys tend to accumulate creosote, a black sticky material that is created when wood does not burn completely. Creosote buildup puts you at risk for a chimney fire, which you certainly do not want in your restaurant. Have the chimney professionally cleaned to ensure it is free of creosote before you start the first fire. Do not try to DIY this task. Commercial chimney cleaning professionals have specialized equipment to reach further up in the chimney then you're able to reach, and they can scrape away buildup that you would not be able to remove with tools you have lying around.
2. Check Your Smoke Detectors and Fire Extinguishers
Hopefully, you already have plenty of working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in your restaurant in case of emergency. This is a good opportunity to make sure they all have batteries and are working properly. Position a fire extinguisher in the same room as the fireplace so it's within easy reach if it is needed. Make sure all of your staff members know how to use the fire extinguisher.
3. Source Good Wood
Although all woods will burn, some burn more cleanly than others. You don't want to burn wood that gives off a bad odor in your restaurant. Some of the hardest, longest-burning, and cleanest-burning wood species are elm, oak, maple, beech, and birch. Avoid burning pine and balsam as they burn down too quickly and will give your restaurant an unappealing scent. Make sure any wood that you buy has been seasoned for at least a year. Newly cut, green wood will release too much smoke.
4. Move Your Tables
Guests will want to sit near the fire, but they will probably get too hot if you position them directly in front of it. So, take the time to move the tables back from the fire a few feet. When seating guests, always ask if they want to sit close to the fire rather than assuming.