7 Tips for Creating an Outdoor Dining Area for Your Restaurant
There’s nothing that spells British summertime more than your mates, a packed beer garden, and a little bit of sun – and this summer promises to be epic after the longest winter spent in lockdown. So, as a restaurant owner, it’s time to make sure your outdoor area is up to scratch, whilst adhering to any safety rules.
When planning your outdoor area, the most important things to consider are cover utilisation and positioning, but throughout this article, we will examine 7 ways you can get the most out of your outdoor space – it will be the first space you can open back up to the public after all.
When it comes to planning your outdoor dining area, unless you have access to ample grassland, you need to think about the best materials to lay – it needs to be inviting for guests and easy to maintain. It would be a good idea to use plain concrete because it doesn’t look that appealing.
For a professional-looking area, consider composite decking from Ecoscape UK – these industry boards have the appeal you may be after. Using composite decking will ensure that you spend little labour on maintaining the area as it is endorsed with anti-staining technology. Furthermore, you won’t need to worry about it causing any fire hazards as it has a Class B rating.
At the moment, you need to plan your area with the current guidelines for social distancing in mind, so create yourself a one-way system that will maximise your cover count – that way, you won’t have guests making avoidable complaints on TripAdvisor.
You need to also make sure that your outside area has the right ratio of sun to shade, for those scorching days. When considering umbrella placement, you should go for darker colours because they will help to keep the heat away.
When your guests choose to sit outside, they are entering an extension of your restaurant, and so they want to feel as though they are still experiencing quality dining. You can do this by making sure your outdoor area has the right ambience.
You could consider adding plants, lighting and other decors consistent with the inside of your restaurant – if you have a set colour theme inside, then translate this for your outdoor area as well. If you have music playing inside your restaurant then make sure your guests can enjoy it outside, otherwise they may as well be sat in silence at the nearest Wetherspoons.
Get Your Furniture Right
As we mentioned previously, you need to make sure that your outdoor area follows the same colour design as the inside, but that doesn’t mean you can simply put the same furniture outside as you have in. Your outdoor furniture needs to be visually appealing. It also needs to withstand the elements and be comfortable to sit on – which isn’t an easy task to achieve. For example, if you opt for metal chairs, they may look okay, but during the summer, they would be unbearable to sit on.
Don’t Forget the Smokers
In this day and age, with the ban on smoking inside, a lot of people don’t like to sit and eat near a table of smokers. Keep this in mind when you plan your outdoor area and consider creating a separate area for smokers with ample ashtrays so your team doesn’t have to spend all day sweeping their cigarette ends up. As of yet, we don’t know what the exact regulations for smoking will be but you may need to adapt once you reopen.
Keep it Realistic
Although you might want to get carried away making the most amazing outdoor area, just remember that you have to staff it whilst maintaining your high standard of service that you offer indoors. If you only have enough staff to assign one member outside, then don’t make the area table service. Instead, you could consider placing an outside bar, this way your team doesn’t have to constantly travel back and forth for drink orders.
Although outdoor dining is the most popular during the summer, people enjoy sitting outside all year round. With this in mind, you could consider investing in some heat lamps, installing fire pits and providing cosy blankets for your guests during the colder months. There’s something oddly satisfying about dining outside whilst the November fireworks go off and the crisp cold tickles the ground.
These are some basic starting points for getting your outdoor area off to a flying start. Now you can make sure that your team is ready to welcome guests back with a warm smile, making them feel at home outside. The new normal doesn’t have to be a strange normal, and it’s down to you to provide an experience as close to the days of pre-lockdown.