Outdoor Delight

Westroot Tavern opened in May 2016 in the upscale residential area of Carmel Valley in northern San Diego, California. The business is located in the Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch—a new shopping/entertainment plaza featuring midrange and high-end dining, fast-casual restaurants, coffee/pastry shops, shopping, and services.

Westroot Tavern occupies a prominent corner unit in the complex, giving it excellent visibility and ample parking. The restaurant features two levels, two full-service bars, and two outdoor patios for a total seating capacity of 300. The large main patio is flanked by an overhead glass garage door opening to the restaurant. An open-window bar adds to the outdoor ambiance of the venue. The decor is distinctly on trend, combining elements of wood, steel, and concrete. High ceilings highlight exposed beams and pipes, giving the space a loftlike appearance.

Westroot Tavern is the seventh and newest dining establishment of Verant Group—a highly successful hospitality company created to develop, own, and manage restaurants/bars in the San Diego area. Verant Group specializes in restaurants with a neighborhood-tavern concept.

The restaurant has quickly become a gathering spot for local friends and tourists, and it’s a new dining destination for people throughout the San Diego region. Westroot Tavern has enjoyed an enthusiastic reception from the local community and has received positive write-ups from San Diego food critics and bloggers, in addition to garnering good online reviews. Verant Group has developed an excellent reputation and winning formula for achieving results, which helped ensure a favorable launch for Westroot Tavern.

Outdoor-heat Requirements

Together the two outdoor patios at Westroot Tavern total 1,800 square feet and seat approximately 100 patrons representing 30% of the restaurant’s entire seating capacity.

The outdoor spaces consist of a large main patio (located on the side of the building) and a smaller patio (located near the front entrance). The main patio was planned and built during the restaurant’s construction phase. The smaller patio was added (a few months after opening) to accommodate more of the guests who requested outdoor seating.

The large patio is an inviting venue with a variety of seating options, including regular (tabletop) dining, bar seating, and wooden benches (with pillows) surrounding a firepit—which provides atmosphere but is not intended to supply heat. Televisions are located throughout the area enticing guests to stay and watch sports or entertainment.

A hard deck cover provides shelter; clear screens can be rolled down, when needed, to give guests protection from wind and rain. The smaller front patio is segregated from the street by a railing; it has regular dining tables covered by soft awnings.

When Verant Group was developing and building Westroof Tavern, it planned— from the projects’ inception— to install outdoor heaters in the main patio area. Kevin Alsobrook, Westroot Tavern’s Manager, and Mark Cirillo, one of Verant Group’s founders, both report that outdoor patios are extremely important to the restaurant’s overall operation, and bottom line—with heaters being crucial components of the space.

Alsobrook explains, “This is San Diego and our guests expect restaurants like Westroot Tavern to offer outdoor dining and to have heaters in the outdoor areas. We need and want to make sure all our guests—whether seated inside or outside on the patios— are comfortable.”

Outdoor dining is popular in San Diego, which has one of the most pleasant climates in the United States. The region is semiarid, with average high temperatures of 69 degrees and lows of 57 degrees. After sunset, low humidity typically ensures that evenings are cool—making the use of heaters essential by any restaurant with outdoor dining.

Outdoor-heat Solution

In conducting its research to determine what brand of heaters to install, the company received a referral to Bromic Heating from friend/colleague, Eric Leitstein, founder and CEO of OMG Hospitality Group. OMG owns several successful dining establishments in the greater San Diego region, and the company liked the Bromic heaters they had installed at its various venues.

Principals from Verant Group made several visits to a few OMG restaurants and also researched Bromic heaters online. Verant Group had also strongly considered purchasing heaters from a competitor but ultimately made the decision to go with Bromic.

The deciding factors included the ability for Westroot Tavern’s management to make on-site visits to see, touch and get a true feel for Bromic heaters, in addition to the customer-service from Bromic’s distributor. Tim Kelly, sales representative, Western Pacific Distributors, comments, “It made a big difference for the Westroot Tavern people to be able to go to the other venues and actually see Bromic heaters in action.”

Since the main patio was built during the construction phase of the restaurant, no architectural or design changes were needed in the space to accommodate the installation of Bromic heaters. A total of 12 Tunsgsten 500 natural-gas heaters were placed in the large patio, mounted on poles that were already in place to support the overhead cover.

For the smaller patio, poles were added to mount the Bromic units. The only design decision necessary was determining pole height. Four Tungsten 500 natural-gas heaters were installed.

Results

Cirillo reports that the entire process of working with Bromic Suppliers—from selection, space planning and installation— was simple and easy.

He explains that today, almost every Westroot Tavern guest requests outside heating. He adds, “The heaters are always turned on during the evenings, and are also often used during the day (when temperatures are cooler).”

According to Cirillo the design aesthetic of Bromic Tungsten definitely fits with the style and tavernlike feel of the restaurant. “They are modern looking and the black color works well— and just looks right for the space.” In Verant Group’s other locations, different brands of outdoor heaters are used, including mushroom style models. Cirillo comments, “Designwise Bromic Tungsten heaters are much better. The heaters visually look very good on both patios and fit well with the restaurant’s aesthetic.”

Management is also pleased with the function of Bromic heaters. Cirillo says, “They operate more efficiently and are smaller so they don’t take up as much space.” He would definitely consider installing Bromic heaters again at future establishments.

So far, Alsobrook’s experience with Bromic heaters has been an excellent one. He finds the units very easy to use, especially with their remote control capability. He says, “The heaters are very efficient and provide a large amount of heat.” Overall, he adds, the heaters do well (and continue to operate) when exposed to inclement weather.

Alsobrook comments that guests have been very receptive and appreciative of the heaters on the outdoor patios.“Keeping customers on the patio during cold nights and days definitely helps.”

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