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Outdoor heating market yields opportunities for propane

November 23, 2020 By    
 Photo: Jacus/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Retailers across the U.S. have experienced a significant uptick in propane sales for outdoor heating needs for both restaurants and residential purposes. Photo: Jacus/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Dining outdoors has become an increasingly popular activity this year for many Americans, spurred by the pandemic and the need for social distance.

In June, New York City introduced the Open Restaurants program, allowing restaurants to expand seating into adjacent public spaces such as sidewalks.

The move was an effort to keep restaurants afloat during a coronavirus-related economic downturn and was set to expire Oct. 31.

In late September, Mayor Bill de Blasio cemented the program, making it permanent beyond the pandemic and even through winters. Through the program, restaurants are now permitted to add heaters to the outdoor dining spaces, including those fueled by propane, so the activity can continue on despite dropping temperatures.

Paraco Gas, based in New York with customers throughout New York City, has experienced a significant uptick in propane sales for outdoor heating needs for both restaurants and residential purposes. Andy Mirchin, national sales manager at Paraco Gas, says tens of thousands of restaurants throughout the city’s five boroughs have turned to propane-powered outdoor heaters since the Open Restaurants program.

“We’ve seen folks that are putting in patio heaters, fire pits and really creating this new living space with outdoor living,” says Christina Armentano, executive vice president of Paraco Gas. “On the commercial side, we have very much become the staple for outdoor restaurants. These restaurants have been hit so hard by this pandemic, and propane is providing them with this opportunity to expand their seating capacities and, as a result, allow them to generate additional revenue that they would not have been able to without that outsourced heating.”

The uptick in demand for these heaters is not just occurring in the Northeast. Propane Ninja, based in Tampa, Florida, has also experienced a notable rise in demand.

“We are seeing early rentals going way up as there is a real shortage of heaters available in the market,” says Mike Dodd, president of Propane Ninja.

“We are about 50 percent reserved for our season that starts next month, and normally it’s way less.”

Propane Ninja is seeing restaurants renting 15 percent more outdoor heaters than they did last year, and advises to reserve them early in anticipation of a supply shortage.

About the Author:

Carly McFadden is associate editor at LP Gas Magazine. She is a graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and a native of Cleveland, Ohio. McFadden can be reached at cmcfadden@northcoastmedia.net.

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