Should restaurants spend money on outdoor spaces that their customers probably won’t use? That’s precisely what an OpenTable and James Beard Foundation’s survey of more than 21,000 diners sought to find out.
The findings showed that 82% hoped restaurants would increase outdoor seating areas. In addition, 74% of diners saw it as a somewhat low-risk activity allowing for social distancing during a raging pandemic.
Whether you operate in New York City or Los Angeles, there is an overwhelming incentive for al fresco dining. After securing the necessary permits from the regulators, we examine ways to improve your restaurant’s outdoor patio.
1. Add Greenery
One of the perks of having your meals outside is you get a front-row seat to nature. This works a charm if you’re next to naturally scenic environs, such as a beachfront or the outdoors.
If your restaurant is on the concrete jungle, despair not as that’s where potted plants come in. Planters allow you to grow decorative greenery and provide a green perimeter that cocoons you from the concrete exterior.
Further, you can use the planters for flowers that produce a fresh aroma that guests find attractive.
Plants make your space feel less crowded and more inviting to diners, vastly improving your outdoor dining area.
2. Appropriate Lighting
Dial-up the mood a tad and make your restaurant deck appealing by including suitable mood lighting. Turn ordinary evenings into festivals using lighting, encouraging guests to stay longer in your establishment.
Attractive patio lighting can help draw in customers from afar as it stands out from the surroundings. Create a relaxing vibe using soft lighting, while a touch of string lights adds to the restfulness and intimacy.
To complete the exterior design, choose lighting that goes well with the color scheme. These are some of the lighting fixtures you should consider:
- Paper lanterns
- Tea lights
- Tropical torches
- Edison bulbs
3. Patio appeal
The first thing diners notice is the attractiveness, or lack of it, of your restaurant patio. If you intend to grab their attention, you must accentuate the exterior design to bring out its best side.
Invest in outside décor, getting furniture, paintings, and create surroundings that form a cohesive dining mood. Additional sales will offset any initial investment, so it is worth the outlay.
4. Comfortable seating
One surefire strategy to entice diners to the outdoor spaces is providing seating that’s decidedly more comfortable than the indoors.
Opt for plush and comfy-looking furniture with cushions, and you’ll have a winner. No one will lust after fully wooden bar stools and picnic tables!
Part of the comfort comes with making the environment comfortable as well. Install outdoor heaters for the colder seasons and outdoor air conditioning for hotter climates. This ensures you open the outdoor eating areas for longer, raking in more revenue.
Moreover, it would help if you worked on stopping annoying pests from irritating customers. These could be anything from:
5. Outdoor dining and menus
There’s something about eating outside that makes some food critics say food tastes better outdoors. Another nifty way of improving the outdoor dining area is by providing a food and drinks menu exclusive to that space.
Having open-fire cooking exclusive to the outdoor areas also gives diners a chance to experience fresh, fine cuisine. Patrons get to see chefs cooking their meals to their specifications as they watch.
Also, specify a few unique beers, wines, and cocktails to specifically serve in the sidewalk seating.
6. Install signage
Provide some inviting content by installing digital signage. The adaptable signs are great for informing diners of food availability and main dishes, so they don’t need to inquire inside.
Digital signage is excellent for displaying dynamic content that will improve the ambiance of your outdoor section.
Additionally, the signage will alert potential customers to your establishment, especially if the rooftop dining is removed from the sidewalk. Take it a step further by providing inviting pictures of your outdoor seating area.
Alternatively, use the screens to display:
- Menu items
- Social media feeds
- Restaurant branding
- Traffic alerts
7. Weather protection
One of the reasons patrons won’t use your outdoor space is the lack of protection from the elements. Raging rain, unforgiving sunshine, or strong winds usually force diners out of outdoor dining spaces.
That is especially true of areas that experience unpredictable weather patterns, making the outdoors unattractive for diners. You can enhance the outdoor dining experience by installing adequate shade, awning, umbrellas, and other weather protection.
Implementing weather protection ensures diners will use the outdoor space whatever the season.
In conclusion, people and pandemic protocols dictate the introduction of more sidewalk seating in your restaurant. You can make the outside areas attractive to guests by installing gorgeous lighting, comfortable seating, and a weatherproof restaurant patio.