The demand for outdoor dining has increased over the years, with peak growth experienced in summer. This may be due to the fact that as the weather becomes warmer, a lot of customers prefer to dine where they can take full advantage of the summer weather. One report shows that adding outdoor dining to a restaurant could drastically increase gross profit.
In order to capitalize on the customers’ quest for dining al fresco, restaurateurs should bear the following tips in mind:
Create a menu that goes with the setting
Adjusting your restaurant’s menu with the season will ensure that you stay up to date with customer needs. No doubt the weather affects the choices in the meals that people have; there are clear favourites for hot days and foods that people steer clear off during summer. In warm weather, we usually want food that will warm us up, while in summer we prefer light meals and cooler dishes.
If you look back at your order history, you will be able to recognise which food does best during the warmer months, and this can help you decide what you can put on special. It will also guide you in the sort of dishes to introduce to make your restaurant more attractive to diners.
Plan for the weather
While offering outdoor dining is a brilliant way to attract more customers, it is also susceptible to the weather. When planning your space, try as much as possible to have contingencies for cold temperatures, rain, heavy winds or other weather changes. This may mean that you get retractable awning or any other covering solution that will ensure customers are not affected by any sudden change in the weather. Having patio umbrellas will help when the sun gets too hot and for chilly weather, patio heaters may come in handy.
In addition, you should have a detailed plan that outlines what each member of staff should do in the event the weather changes. The plan should guide staff on how they should assist customers and put them at ease. If customers are to be ushered inside the restaurant to escape the weather, staff should now the correct procedure to follow to ensure the customers’ food does not get contaminated or spoiled by the weather.
Get the right décor
A basic rule when extending the dining space, to include the patio, is to keep the same style and colours that are inside the restaurant. In this way, the two spaces blend in seamlessly.
It is advisable to keep the chairs and tables neutral and to add colour through easy to change items such as cushions, art, and umbrellas. The major difference between the spaces will be the material used. The material used for the patio furniture should be durable as it will be exposed to the elements.
Above all, remember that your customers will be taking pictures of your food and décor, thus the space you create should be attractive enough to make people want to share it on social media.
Invest in systems that make the work easier
Since patios are usually located far from the kitchen and bar, it is wise to invest in a Point Of Sale (POS) system that allows wait staff to convey orders to the kitchen staff or bartender directly from the patio. An effective POS system will also indicate the stock available and staff will be able to let customers know instantly whether their order can be made or not. This will save time spent in backwards and forwards between the patio and kitchen, lessening the possibility of the customer getting annoyed.
Creating an outdoor dining space will allow your restaurant to seat more people, thus creating more revenue. With careful planning and a bit of technology, your restaurant can be able to take full advantage of the warmer weather and offer an outstanding patio dining experience.