HOUSTON, Texas — The heat wave continues to hover over Houston, and in its direct line of fury sits air conditioning units working hard to do one job.
“HVAC units are only designed to cool 15 to 25 degrees less than what the temperature is. You throw people load on that, with people coming in and out," said Alli Jarrett, the owner of Harold's Heights - Restaurant, Bar & Terrace and Low Tide Kitchen and Bar.
Jarrett said that even though her HVAC systems are properly maintained, the heat has been taking its toll.
“In the restaurant business, you just give it about five minutes and something will break," she said. “Your AC units are running constantly, they’re running on overtime, and they never get a break. Eventually, if there’s some kind of little flaw, it will find itself in these severe temperatures.”
Jarrett said in the past two weeks, she’s spent roughly $5,000 fixing AC issues at both Harold's and Low Tide Kitchen and Bar.
“And all these units are maintenanced. We have regular maintenance, quarterly maintenance on all of them. And you just try to fix it as quickly as possible," Jarrett said.
She's added portable AC units at Harold's to help support the system downstairs. It’s an issue she said many restaurants are currently dealing with.
“You’re not alone, every single person, business owner, is dealing with this challenge," she said.
Jarrett said with these issues, combined with energy costs, restaurants could use your support, especially during the summer.
“It’s not cheap to run these AC units," she said. "It’s very expensive with the power rates that exist, so I do encourage everybody to go out and eat."
The Texas Restaurant Association offers these tips and resources for restaurants dealing with extreme heat:
- Make sure your team members understand and are following heat illness prevention measures.
- Inspect and maintain your cooling and HVAC equipment, and make sure you have a plan in place to respond to a breakdown.
- 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.
- Consider adding fans, misting hoses, and extra water stations for your team members and customers, particularly for outdoor patios.
- Review your hours of operation and menus to look for efficiencies.
- Make sure your team members have adequate breaks and time off.
- Leverage your to-go and beverage sales. Consider special marketing and promotions that respond to the heat wave.
- Make sure online ordering is easy and convenient. And don’t forget about the opportunity to sell alcohol to go.
- If you lose power, inventory your perishables immediately and connect with your insurance broker to start an inventory loss and business interruption claim.