Restaurant, bar scramble for propane amid epidemic winter

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) – With coronavirus restrictions forcing bars and restaurants to sit outside customers in the dead of winter, many are stopping the irregular supply of propane that fuel space heaters use to keep people more than they already have Are trusting. Cozy in the cold.

It is one of several new headaches – but an important one – that go along with installing tables and tents on sidewalks, roads and patio to comply with public health restrictions.

“You’re in the middle of service and the employees are running and say, ‘We’re out of propane!” Said Melinda Maddox, the manager of the whiskey tasting room in Colorado.

Propane has long been a lifeline for those who live in very remote locations to obtain natural gas in their homes for heat, hot water and cooking. This winter, 5-gallon (18-liter) propane tank has proved a new necessity for urban businesses, especially in places such as the Rocky Mountains, where the sun often borders the cold and people still gather on Paytm. Enjoy the heaters are roaring.

Standard-sized tanks, which contain pressurized liquid propane, turn to gas as it is usually readily available from gas stations, grocery stores, or home improvement stores. But this is not always the case because high demand is sometimes irregular supply.

“I spent an hour around the city one day. Virtually went north, south, east, west – there was just a loop around Fort Collins because every gas station I went to was out. It was disappointing, ”said Maddox, who manages the old elk distillery tasting room at Fort Collins, about 65 miles (105 kilometers) north of Denver.

Nearly all states allow at least some indoor food, but nationwide regulations are a hobby of local regulations. In Fort Collins, indoor seating capacity in bars and restaurants is limited to 25% of normal capacity, so there is a strong incentive for outside customers to sit despite complexity and expense.

The shortage of local propane tanks is not only due to high demand but also to domestic hoardings similar to the epidemic that runs on toilet paper and other goods. Rocky Mountain Propane Association executive director Tom Clarke said a national tank supplier reported a 38% sales increase this winter.

But Clarke says there is a supply, it may mean a little more than normal search. If there are 10 suppliers in the neighborhood, “1 in 10 may run out of inventory. Certainly, if you look around, you can find a propane exchange tank.”

Franklin, Tennessee-based tank manufacturer Manchester Tank has given workers in India premature and boosted production to meet demand, company president Nancy Chambal said by email.

So far, the increase in demand for small tank-propane has not affected U.S. propane supply, demand and prices, which have been running similar to recent winters, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

But trying to find a steady supply of propane can cause time and money shortages for already stressed businesses, which they lack in the epidemic.

Gas stations are better than home improvement stores for running propane tanks, Maddox said, but tank-filling shops are best because it is cheaper and not as complicated as trying to operate every tank.

“The issue is longer,” Maddox said. “All you have to do is build your day and it’s okay to say it’s going to take 40 minutes instead of 25 minutes.”

Across the street, Pour Bros. Community Tavern owners Christy and Dave Weigman are filling heaters and fire bowls at their 18 or so heaters and a supplier on the edge of town, as a nearby store has stopped serving refills.

They find out that propane tanks carry the stamp of manufacture date. Propane shops will not refill tanks older than 12 years unless they have been re-certified in five-year increments.

“We’re learning more and more about propane,” Dave Weigman said.

They have gained insight into the market for space heaters, which have more than doubled in price due to increased demand, and outdoor furniture for their street-parking-turn-outdoor-patio area that can seat up to 44 people , Said Christy Weigman.

His staff also quickly had to learn to hook up propane tanks and light heaters, needing a place where temperatures could drop well below zero (minus 18 Celsius) in winter.

Dave Weijmans said that keeping customers comfortable has taken on a new dimension.

“Before it was just drinks and food, right? And now, we think the priority is drinks and food, but maybe the customer feels that the priority is heat. And so now we have to balance another priority that Some customers care, ”he said.

“It’s almost like another service we’re providing is out of heat,” Weigman said.


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