Gone are the days when you only used outdoor restaurant
furniture during the warm months. Between heat lamps, fireplaces, fire pits and
even blankets, you can take the fun outside nearly year round. Besides, eating
al-fresco increases appetite, as well as pleasure.
Create the Experience
You want set up your outdoor eating area as a refuge. This
might mean a garden setting, a patio or a lookout on a scenic display. Your
location and local building codes will help determine which is most
appropriate. If a beautiful view isn’t in your cards,
people watching can be.
If you have no other options, sidewalk seating may be
viable. However, this is a method most suited to older neighborhoods that offer
vintage homes and foot traffic. That traffic will not only entertain guests, it
can bring in new guests too.
Test the Waters
Before you dive in head first, give things a try. Lease the
equipment you need for your new dining area. Find out if the current staff can
handle the additional load or if you need new employees to make things work. If
your kitchen staff is overwhelmed every time you have a full patio then you
either need another chef, or you need to cut back on your outdoor service.
Adapt as Needed
During hot weather you may find it hard to get your guests
outside. Plan for this by having misters, umbrellas and shade set up in
advance. If that isn’t enough to get people outdoors, try promotions that are
only available al-fresco. For example, a happy hour that is only available on
the patio. Half-price drinks or a platter of light snacks are a winner every
Plan for Success
Now that you have the basics under way, you need to look at
some additional factors. Set up some stations outdoors. This lets you stock
drinks nearby, avoiding delays when customers are thirsty in the hot sun.
Anticipate the need for storage if you can’t
keep your outdoor area functional year round. You may prefer leasing if this is
The right furniture is important. Comfortable, cushioned
chairs are more inviting but they get wet in the rain. Adapt your plan to your
climate for the greatest success. Additionally, if you purchase the furniture,
expect to replace it every 5 to 7 years, just like you would indoors.
With the right outdoor restaurant furniture and plan you
can expect to see a significant increase in your bottom line with a minimal
investment. Furthermore, with your PR sitting right outside where everyone can
see it, you can count on word of mouth bringing in more guests. This is a
win/win situation for just about every restaurateur.