3 watertight tips to protect your guests from the rain

The word ‘parasol’ literally means ‘against the sun’. But a good parasol also offers protection against the rain. For a catering business, that’s very important. Listen to what Geert Van Hecke, Gert De Mangeleer and Joachim Boudens have to say on the matter:

Sun and rain

“I hate eating in the sun. And in the rain, of course. A parasol therefore needs to offer protection against both sun and rain. For me, both these things are just as important.”

Three-star chef Geert Van Hecke (De Karmeliet, De Refter, Zet’Joe)

No more saving seats inside

“Later in the evening it gets colder and darker. In the past, many terrace diners wanted to move inside in the middle of their meal. Chaos. Thanks to the lighting and heating in our parasols, they can now remain comfortably seated outside. Waterproof fabric also prevents people from rushing inside at the first sign of rain. We no longer keep places free indoors. This allows us to book more people and increase our turnover on rainy days and chilly nights.”

Sommelier Joachim Boudens (three-star restaurant Hertog Jan and Bistro LESS)

Choose large parasols to offer more protection against the rain

You can compare it with the umbrellas you use when it rains. Small folding umbrellas are easy to carry in your handbag or briefcase, but they don’t offer you great protection against the rain. Because they are so small, slanting rain can easily find its way under the rim of the fabric, so that you are soon wet through. It’s the same with parasols. The bigger the parasol, the more protection it offers against rain (and, of course, against sun).

  • Small parasols offer hardly any protection against the rain.
  • Putting small parasols alongside each other doesn’t help, either. The rain simply pours through the gaps where they don’t meet properly.
  • The bigger the parasol, the more protection it gives to your guests, your table and your serving staff. A parasol measuring 5 metres by 5 metres keeps an area of 25 square metres dry – and that’s quite a lot.

Use gutters between your parasols to catch rain run-off

Rain water runs off your sloping parasols and falls over the edge onto the ground. This can splash your guests nearest the edge and also create puddles between parasols. If the rain is slanting, you can even get wet under a parasol. Both these problems can easily be prevented by installing gutters between your parasols.

  • Make sure that your gutters are designed and mounted in such a way that the water can be channelled off to one side (whichever side is most convenient for you and/or your guests).
  • Does your supplier sell gutters? Ask him.
  • A professional parasol gutter is easy to fix, easy to detach and easy to store. Discuss this with your supplier before it is too late. You don’t want any unpleasant surprises.

You can’t attach a gutter to the outer edge of the last parasol in a row. You can only attach gutters between two parasols. So, what can you do to stop your guests at the outside edge from getting wet? On many terraces a fixed windshield is installed along this outer side, which also adds extra protection against rain. If this is not an option, it is also possible to hang a windshield from that edge of your parasol.

Use side sails on the outer edges of your parasols

  • Do you have a fixed windshield around your terrace? If so, consider installing side sails between your parasols and the shield. This will keep out most of the rain.
  • You don’t have a fixed windshield? Ask about side sails in water-resistant textiles.
  • Try to avoid giving your guests the feeling that they are trapped in a box.  Transparent textiles give a feeling of space and openness. They also give people the option to look ’through the window’, so that they can better enjoy the surroundings.

Pick the right parasol
(and your terrace will be packed)

50 parasol tips for the catering world

The book of 'parasologist' Pierre Christiaens for the
catering professional who wants to get more out of his business.

Pierre Christiaans

"Parasologist" and author

How can you get more out of your terrace? Why can the right parasol help to make your terrace more pro table? And how do you choose the right parasol?

In this book, ‘parasologist’ Pierre Christiaens offers insights based on his more than 25 years of experience and know-how in the world of parasols for catering businesses. With dozens of awards, his company Symo Parasols is most highly acclaimed parasol producer under the sun.

Pierre is most proud of his honorary title as ‘Maestro dell’Artigianato’ (Master Craftsman) of the City of Rome.

Symo Parasols also created the famous Sywawa ‘Sunbelievable’ design parasols.

In 2007, Unizo nominated Pierre Christiaens as the most creative entrepreneur of the year.

This book allows you to benefit from that creativity and entrepreneurial skill.
Because with the right parasol you can get so much more out of your business.