The Salt Line 218359Al fresco dining is important to Paul Holder. As co-owner of The Salt Line in Washington, D.C., it’s a major part of his business.

Paul Holder: We are a New England-inspired oyster house located on D.C.’s Capitol Riverfront, opposite Nationals Park. Our outdoor bar and dining area are covered to protect diners from the passing showers. The riverfront and shade mean it’s generally 10 degrees cooler on hot summer days. We offer a blend of outdoor seating — lounge, hi-top and standard tables.

How much of your business is driven by sports events?

PH: The Nationals drive a lot of business during the summertime , but good weather is just as important. As long as the weather is good, we can be just as busy — if not busier — on days when there are no sporting events.

What’s more important to you when selecting outdoor furniture: style or durability?

PH: While style is certainly a strong consideration, it doesn’t matter how cool a piece of furniture is if doesn’t hold up to regular usage. Each seat equates to dollars, and if we’re missing a few chairs because of damage that means we can’t serve as many guests. We’re in the restaurant business, not the furniture repair business. We want products that will hold up and not require an inordinate amount of maintenance and upkeep that would distract us from other more important matters.

The stories on the next few pages will give you some tips for finding the right outdoor furniture for your operation.

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