In the age of COVID, restaurants have had to adapt. One of the ways they’ve done this is to start offering outdoor seating or expand their existing outdoor space. Besides being a healthier option, virus-wise, outdoor seating offers a nice variation in the environment for your customers. Fresh air and sunshine tend to put people in better moods, and that’s when they’ll spend more money with you. Here are some tips to capitalize on outdoor dining opportunities this summer:
- Make the investment. If you’re going to have outdoor seating, make sure you have the resources to make it a quality space. Don’t just throw up a few plastic tables and chairs on a patio and call it good. Invest in greenery, umbrellas, portable heating units, and nice-looking, solid furniture that won’t crack or get blown away by the wind. Be sure you have proper staff coverage for outdoor areas at all times. We’ve all had outdoor dining experiences where it feels like we’re being ignored; don’t make your outdoor diners feel left out! Properly investing in your outdoor space will make people happier, more comfortable, and more likely to spend money and return to your restaurant.
- Furniture is Key. You might think you want heavier furniture outside to deter theft or so it stays put during high winds, but be careful—furniture that is anchored to the ground or too heavy to be casually moved around can limit the flexibility of your outdoor seating arrangements. Look for tables and chairs that are sturdy but not bulky so you can maximize your space, and be sure your furniture is light enough that tables can be pushed together or moved around to accommodate multiple seating configurations.
- Provide protection from elements. Misters are great attractors for patios on summer days, while heat shields make outdoor dining in the fall or early spring cozy and comfortable. Of course, you should always make sure your patio has at least some shade, whether via a part of the building or adjustable table umbrellas.
- Pay attention to lighting. Just as you would indoors, make sure your outdoor space is lit intentionally and for best effect. This might mean having some ambient lighting installed in your outdoor space, whether it’s some soft ground lighting around the dining area or warm overhead lights beneath a roof. Once the sun goes down, people will want to eat in a place that offers the same kind of comforting light they are used to when dining indoors.
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