As the seasons change, it’s only natural for restaurant patrons to want to enjoy more comfortable weather firsthand. After all, helping yourself to a tasty meal, fresh air, and even a view can transform the eating experience — something restaurant owners should take advantage of when planning or revising their business strategy.
However, like other business decisions, restaurant management must devote a lot of time and thought to patio season prep before they can succeed.
On top of the standard logistics, like applying for a permit and mapping out the space, it’s worth looking into more nuanced tech and design details — such as contactless dining options.
With the right technology, a customer dining outside needs only to lift a finger to order their drink or meal via an app that automatically syncs to the restaurant’s point-of-sale system.
And with mindful decor and operations planning (e.g., preparing for different types of weather), any restaurant can gain revenue and customers by investing in a patio.
Learn more about outdoor dining tips and strategies with this graphic.
10 Ways to Prepare Your Restaurant for Patio Season
Here is the list of items from the infographic above:
1. Get a permit – Visit your city’s website to learn about applying for a patio permit. Make note of whether you can serve alcohol, allow pets, play music, and more.
2. Look into contactless dining options – If possible, allow customers to view the menu with a QR Code and to order and pay directly from their phones. Also, consider adopting a system to let diners summon their servers via a phone app or contactless pager.
3. Shield diners from traffic – For street patios, consider barriers, lattice, or landscaping to shield customers from street traffic and pedestrians.
4. Incorporate plans and flowers – Add plants and flowers to boost your patio’s design and overall aesthetic.
5. Create mood lighting – Set a warm and welcoming ambiance with lanterns, tea lights, twinkly string lights, and more.
6. Feature warm-weather food and beverage – Optimize your patio menu to highlight small, shareable dishes and lighter fare.
7. Rotate employees – Keep your patio servers and front-of-house staff upbeat and energetic by rotating them between indoor and outdoor shifts.
8. Prepare for the weather – Consider canopies, tents, awnings, shade sails, retractable covers, or umbrellas to offer shade and rain cover.
9. Warm up the space – Set up heat lamps, heaters, or fire pits to warm the space and provide ambiance in the evenings.
10. Offer live music or events – Make your patio destination by hosting live music, trivia, speed dating, bar games, or other events.
The best way to make sure your patio is bustling with customers is to provide an inviting and comfortable space with good mood lighting and fresh, seasonal dishes.
You should also rotate your employees so that everyone gets a chance to work in the outdoor space. Also, be prepared for weather changes by having canopies or other coverings available.
Finally, consider adding live music or hosting events on slower nights to give people a reason to visit your patio. By following these tips, you can create a patio space that will be popular all season long!