How To Prepare Your Cafe for Hurricane Season

As Hurricane Irene sets her sights on the US coastline, it is a good time to review a few simple steps to minimize your losses if you are in the path of a major storm.

First, review your insurance policies. Make sure that you have business interruption insurance with a rider that covers refrigeration. It might be several days before power is restored to your area. This is generally very inexpensive and will more than make up for itself if you lose power to your coolers for even a day. Call your insurance agent now if you do not have this coverage.

Next prepare your exterior to minimize the risk of flying debris that can knock out your windows or the those of the businesses around you. You may also want to move any furniture or merchandise away from windows in case you do have wind and rain coming inside.

Perhaps most importantly you need to take a few steps to protect your equipment since you will want to be able to brew as soon as power returns. You will want to turn off the power to your brewing and grinding equipment and any other major equipment that will not be in use during the storm. Also turn off the water supply to these units in case your municipal water source becomes contaminated. When the equipment is cool, cover them with tarps, plastic sheets or heavy duty trash bags to keep water out. You will also want to protect your cold storage items. If you have multiple coolers, consolidate as best you can, group packages as tightly as possible as this reduces the chances that items will spoil.

When returning to your shop after the storm, inspect the exterior before entering – if you notice downed power lines, leave the area and report the issue to the energy provider. Also check with your water company for any reports of contamination. If power and water is restored, inspect the inside to ensure no damage has occurred and it is safe to reconnect your equipment. Hopefully you will have minimal clean up and can reopen immediately.

Also, make sure you have all of your staff’s contact information. Some may be evacuating, while others may be available if you are ready to reopen. Some services may not be available, so be sure you have multiple methods of contact – phone, email, Facebook, texting etc. If you find yourself to be one of the few businesses ready to reopen immediately after the storm, you could experience a rush of customers.

These few simple steps can be done in a short amount of time and could save you hundreds or thousands even if your business does not sustain physical damage.

Be safe!

Thom Swain
Stockton Graham & Co.