is more to creating a beautiful, functional patio than just buying a few chairs
and tables and putting them on a concrete slab outside. Many restaurants make the mistake of using
cheaply made furniture and accessories and then wonder why no one ever sits
outside, regardless of the weather. Before you waste your money creating an unusable space, consider the
need to start with an idea about how you want your outdoor floor space to be
used. Is it just a place where people can smoke between courses or do you want
to serve full meals when the weather allows? Will your staff be able to access basic necessities outside, or do they
have to come in for everything? With a
plan in place, you are ready to begin.
first consideration needs to be the layout of the floor and tables. Café tables
and chairs are good choices for an outdoor space that has no protection from
precipitation. Typically made from
metal, this hardy furniture will last for years. Another good choice is redwood
furniture. Add some all-weather cushions
and you have the basis for a comfortable meal.
is part of the layout. Will your patio
space look like a Japanese garden, with tables tucked away in little
nooks? Is there a view that is worth
highlighting? Arrange your tables to take
advantage of it. Will patio heaters
allow your guests to enjoy the outdoors for a few extra weeks each year?
decide how, and if, you will enclose the patio. If you are situated in a well-travelled area you may want to put up some
sort of barriers. Ivy covered slatted
walls, privacy hedges and other live options make for an intimate atmosphere.
Shorter fences keep people from walking through your dining area casually,
exception to barriers would be if you want to welcome well behaved dogs. In many dog-friendly cities, pets are welcome
on a patio, so keep the space open to encourage such clientele.
lights need to do two things: they have to provide ambiance and they have to
generate enough wattage so that people can see what they are eating. Stringing fairy lights above an outdoor
dining area is a wonderful way to create a bit of magic. Whether you choose simple white lights,
Chinese lanterns or hand blown fixtures you can create a wonderland effect.
some candles for romance and some indirect lighting that gives the whole patio
a glow. Put it all on a dimmer switch
and you won’t ever worry about blinding your guests.
thing customers get frustrated with when sitting outside is slower
service. To head off such problems make
sure you set up a server’s station in an out of the way corner. Stock it with extra utensils, drinks and
other essentials. If you can, consider
adding a register so cashing out is quick and simple.
perfect patio space can significantly increase your curb appeal, bringing in
new customers and delighting your regulars.