Posted by Patrick Maness
In Paris people line the promenades to take their morning coffee outside. In Italy, they call it al fresco dining, or dining in the fresh air. Whatever country you’re in, little more is needed than the promise of a warm day and a refreshing beverage to make people want to eat and drink outside. It’s why people seek out restaurants with patios and why restaurant owners want to have them.
If you don’t already have a patio, creating one will most likely require obtaining permits and cutting through some red tape, but for the most part, the overall cost is low and the return is high. So, why not give it a go?
Furniture, fun and more
Outdoor seating naturally means you'll need outdoor furniture that can withstand the abuses of the sun, the rain and whatever else mother nature throws its way. Not only is restaurant patio furniture built tougher, but stylistically it’s quite different from what you use inside; this allows for a range of creative layouts.
When designing your patio, keep in mind the various ways you can make it into something more than just a place to sit outside. One easy way to upgrade your space is to set up patio games like bags, foosball, lawn bowling, shuffleboard or others. These games will help you get patrons through the door and keep them there longer.
A slightly more complicated — but very practical — addition would be building a bar on the patio. From a customer’s perspective, an outside bar promotes a relaxed vibe and real convenience. From an owner’s stance, it limits how often the staff has to go back and forth through the doors, thus cutting down on wait times. And since not every patio has a bar, it is one more way to distinguish your restaurant.
The biggest challenge with a patio is that its use is weather dependent. Especially on hot summer days, the sun can sometimes be too much for some patrons, which is why the most important thing to have on your patio is some sort of shade. This can come in the form of table umbrellas, a mesh awning, or the roof itself. Apart from providing shade, there’s not too much you can do to protect an open patio against the weather.
You can, however, extend your patio season into the fall by setting up outdoor heaters and even an outdoor fireplace. As the temperature drops and fewer guests are willing to go outside, you can consider placing some outdoor sofas around the fireplace to create a cozy environment where guests can share a drink.
Even if most remain inside, they will notice this setup as one more unique aspect of your patio.
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