Restaurants with outdoor dining space have always been a hit with the summer crowds, but your sun-soaked patio may not be living up to its full potential. You’ve got prime real estate out there, sure, but it takes more than a few tables and chairs on a deck to be the glorious summer oasis that everyone’s looking for on a sunny day. Here are a few tips to help your outdoor patio become a local hot spot:
1. Be Friendly to Fur-Babies
To animal lovers, pets aren’t just four-legged friends; they’re beloved family members who often tag along on outdoor excursions. If your indoor seating isn’t pet-friendly, consider updating your outdoor dining space to welcome a whole new category of restaurant goers who would have otherwise chosen to eat somewhere more open to animals. You’ll likely be touted as a favorite local spot to other pet owners on social media. If you are worried about customers who may have allergies, you can feature weekly or bi-weekly days with a pet-friendly policy, or certain hours where animals are welcome so that everyone can have an enjoyable experience.
2. Offer a Bar on Wheels
You may not want to commit to a full on-site bar outdoors if the weather only allows you to utilize your outdoor dining space for half the year. Portable bars are a great alternative. These are perfect for businesses who experience variable weather conditions or who aren’t ready to commit to a permanent fixture just yet. Bars themselves offer considerable revenue. Who doesn’t want to sip on a cold summer shandy on a warm August evening? Guests may not want to step away from the enchanting atmosphere you’ve provided outside just to refill their drink. Instead, bring the drinks to them so they can stay focused on the great time they’re having.
3. Get your Feng-Shui On
Consider the flow from your indoor seating to your outdoor dining space. Does the décor provide guests with a warm, inviting area for them to relax, or is there a sharp contrast between the ambiance inside and the atmosphere outside? You want to make sure each area not only offers an enjoyable space to relax, but remains consistent with your brand identity. If you have a beachy seafood restaurant, consider decorating your patio like a ship deck. If you’ve got more of a hometown artsy vibe, some string lights and trendy installations from local artists may add interest. Whatever you do, consider the comfort of your guests by offering plenty of umbrellas to shade customers from the blistering sun, or an awning to provide rain cover.
Maximize Your Outdoor Appeal
Is your outdoor dining space reaching its full potential, or is it a bit of a fixer-upper? Luckily you don’t have to add too much in order to make your patio a trendy, profitable space that keeps customers coming back. Most restaurant goers are just looking for a comfortable spot where they can enjoy the warm weather and share a memorable experience with friends and family. Whether you own a bar and grill on the boardwalk, a brewery in the cultural district, or a classy restaurant in a mountain resort, your guests are looking to utilize your outdoor seating area as much as possible this summer, so make sure you’re not neglecting it; otherwise you may be missing out on a great potential for return on your investment.