As the owner of a restaurant, you’re most likely always looking for ways to improve the experience for your customers and raise profits. Whether you run a small coffee shop, a fast casual quick service joint, or a large table service restaurant, adding an outdoor seating area (or expanding your current one) can be a wise investment, especially given the circumstances of the past two years.
According to a Quarterly Diner Insights survey conducted by OpenTable, Americans are back to dining out in full force, with approximately 82% of diners wanting restaurants to continue increasing outdoor seating options.
While the pandemic has forced many restaurateurs to get creative with their outdoor seating configurations, more eateries should be investing in quality outdoor experiences, regardless of where we are at with the pandemic. If done properly, a patio, enclosure, tent, or other outdoor dining structure can be the asset that takes your restaurant to the next level.
Outdoor Dining Over the Last Year
It goes without saying that the last year or two has been quite the rollercoaster, both inside and out of the restaurant industry. The global pandemic has swept the rug out from under our feet, rocking our lives upside down in nearly every which way. Everything from the way we work, the way we socialize, down to the way we eat out has been altered in some way.
Towards the beginning of the pandemic, most restaurants relied solely on takeout or delivery orders, with smaller businesses suffering the brunt of the burden. As restrictions began to loosen at varying paces across the country, more restaurants shifted their focus to their outdoor seating, with many transitioning into exclusively outdoor service. In just about every city, you would likely see at least one eatery, if not most, operating with outdoor seating extending out onto the sidewalks and streets.
Many of these seating arrangements were put together hastily with little planning, as restaurants were scrambling to keep up with changing regulations in order to keep their doors open. Depending on the Covid-19 numbers in your area, outdoor dining may even be the only option for dining out for the foreseeable future. With the right plan, vision, and perhaps a custom-built structure from Choura, imagine where you could take your restaurant’s outdoor dining experience.
Why You Should Add or Expand Your Restaurant Patio
It’s important to remember that in terms of Covid-19 protocols, your outdoor patio enclosure is only as safe as you make it, with both staff and patrons adhering to the rules as much as possible. Some setups really aren’t any safer than indoor dining at all. The more enclosed your restaurant’s patio is, the less effective it will be in serving any Covid mitigation purposes. The key benefit of adding an outdoor dining area is it gives you a greater chance at staying open for business during these unpredictable times. Depending on the design, however, a patio area can allow for increased ventilation.
Pandemic or not, there are several benefits to having a well-maintained outdoor patio, tent, or enclosure. Perhaps the most important, adding an outdoor dining space allows the restaurant to increase both capacity and the bottom line. This can be especially helpful when maximum indoor occupancies are restricted.
Outdoor dining can be an especially hot commodity in spring and summer months. From a diner’s point of view, there are few things better than basking in the sunlight, enjoying fresh air, and conversing with friends over a good meal.
If you decide to outfit your outdoor dining area with a tent, structure, or other enclosure, it can come in handy when the sun decides to intrude on your diners a little too much. The right enclosure can provide shade, regulate temperature, keep out pests, and protect diners from inclement weather.
Things to Take into Consideration Before Adding a Patio or Enclosure
As exciting as it can be to finally take the plunge and get to work on your outdoor seating areas, there are several things you’ll need to factor in.
As with any venture, there is a lot of red tape involved. Are you leasing the building? Talk to your landlord and insurance company. Contact your local zoning commission to find out which permits you may need to file for.
This one is easy to overlook but is grounded in common sense. Make sure you’re only utilizing space on level ground, for the safety and comfort of both your patrons and staff.
Consider the View
You’ve heard it before: location is key. That applies to your patio too. Take a look at your surroundings. Is there a side of the restaurant that is more visually appealing? Is it possible to orient your seating in a manner that gives your patrons a view, such as a park, garden, or beach? Are there any sights you’d like to avoid, such as never-ending construction? Be sure to keep these questions in mind when deciding where to put your outdoor seating areas. If the views are nice and space permits, front porches, “backyards,” and rooftops are popular areas to build out patio dining.
Use the Right Furniture
While you certainly want the right furniture for aesthetic purposes, you also want to have the right furniture to meet changing needs. Will the material or upholstery hold up in inclement weather such as rain? Is your furniture portable enough to move around if you need to adjust seating arrangements?
Don’t Forget Weather
Depending on where you’re located, you may have to account for harsh weather, particularly the colder months. Built-in heating equipment, propane heaters, infrared heaters, and fire pits are all great ways to winterize your restaurant’s patio, especially when paired with a custom build.
Consider a Custom Build
When it comes to designing your restaurant’s outdoor dining area or patio enclosure, we’re ready to meet you where you are. Whatever your priorities are, Choura’s team of creative builders is ready to work up the outdoor dining enclosure or structure that’ll make your restaurant the envy of the block. From tents to full-blown double decker structures, we’re ready to take your vision and transform it into an unforgettable experience for your patrons. Get to know us today!