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Dismal summer weather spoiling business for rooftop bars
Sky high drinking spaces are all the rage but they’re also dependent on good weather to draw summer crowds. The recent spate of rain showers and strong winds has been damaging business at many a rooftop bar around the country.
In Brussels, more and more stylish panoramic bars are popping up above soaring office blocks and trendy hotels. Rooftop 58 on the ninth floor of Brussels city’s brand-new administration centre is the largest one in the capital. Laurent Louvion, one of the owners, told RTBF how July’s changeable weather has been affecting the running of the terrace since it opened in June.
“When we see in the morning that a non-stop day of rain is forecast, we are able to anticipate a little and say that we are not going to open, both for the comfort of the teams, but also of the customers,” he explained.
But when they experience rain showers several times a day, interspersed with sunny periods, it's more complicated to manage. “We are always on our phones to see how the situation will evolve and try to anticipate as much as possible to warn people that it might rain and that we don't have any shelter.”
The team is reduced when there’s bad weather, sometimes from 25 to eight, and customers are informed via social networks. A closed sign is also placed at the street entrance to the building. If naturally frustrated, Louvion remains philosophical. “It's a shame, but I'm Breton. The Belgian weather is a little the same: we know how to deal with it, but we would rather be without it," he smiles.
Although the terrace is dotted with parasols, they are reserved for sunny days and need to be closed when the wind rises. "If we open them, there is a risk that the parasol will fly away and end up nine floors below. It’s a risk that should not be taken,” explains Louvion.
On the upside, when the sun does shine, the terrace quickly fills up with people wanting to enjoy the spectacular panoramic views over the city. "Sometimes in just half an hour, we are full. It can make up for a bad day. On some days with good weather we were full with a long queue outside in the street."
While the inclement weather has been emptying terraces, it has helped drive people into museums in the city. Brussels’ numerous cultural institutions have been reporting good attendance, proving that there’s a silver lining to every rain cloud.