Austin Distel  /


Consumer preferences and COVID-19 occupancy limitations are keeping many diners on restaurant patios and outdoor dining areas, but dropping temperatures have some reconsidering their decision to dine out. To encourage people to keep going to local restaurants and to make eating outside a more comfortable experience, Gerry Barker, president and CEO of Cheshire, Connecticut, distributor Barker Specialty Co. (PPAI 102001, D10), along with several area chambers of commerce and local restaurants, collaborated on a “Bring Your Own Blanket” or BYOB campaign. PPB Newslink reported on the concept in an October issue. The BYOB idea was created to spur business for restaurants, a sector hit hard by the pandemic, during the fall and winter months, and persuade diners to bundle up, visit their favorite local eateries and have a good time.

Has anyone checked into the legalities and potential liability associated with a program like this? Will towns and insurance companies support it? I see several different types and sizes of blankets in an outdoor tent seating area as a trip hazard, and with all the different outdoor heaters, a possible fire hazard.

Raymond Billock
RJB Associates, Inc. DBA Perfect Promotions
Wadsworth, Illinois
PPAI 143327, D2

I'm curious to know if this was done as a fundraiser.

Kathy Baker, MAS
Sales Consultant, Brand Manager
Proforma Angelini & Associates
Cypress, Texas
PPAI 255948, D1

Thanks for the responses.

Kathy, we are not promoting as a fundraiser, but it certainly can be. We are talking with one restaurant that is thinking of partnering with a local nonprofit, having the nonprofit order the blankets with the nonprofit logo and the restaurant selling them with all proceeds benefiting the organization.

Raymond, you raise an issue that may or may not be a problem. So far, we have seen restaurant customers wrapping themselves with the blankets or placing them on their laps. I certainly hope that these aren't being strewn across the patio, and I think most people would prefer not to have their blankets (or coats) on the ground. We have seen tremendous positivity with the campaign and just this weekend, have seen a number of restaurants posting for their customers to come enjoy outdoor dining and to bring their own blankets for added comfort. I hope you will join the campaign and promote to your area restaurants.

Gerald Barker
President and CEO
Barker Specialty Co.
Cheshire, Connecticut
PPAI 102001, D10


In its October issue, PPB highlighted 10 industry leaders recognized as the magazine’s 2020 Best Bosses. The managers celebrated in PPB were chosen based on the qualities, management styles and leadership examples shared by their direct reports.

This is a terrific article. Thank you for putting it out there for material to guide all of us. It would be interesting to follow up in a year or two on the nominators and see what they've applied in their continued growth and the obvious influences that led them to where they are.

Shawn Kanak
Vice President Of Sales
Baltimore, Maryland
Towel Specialties
PPAI 113150, S8 


James Khattak is news editor of PPB.