During the peak periods of the coronavirus pandemic, which is still proving a massive disruption to the hospitality sector, those restaurants that had access to an outdoor space were the ones that managed to most effectively deal with the enormous obstacles that have hit the industry over the past two years.
When the COVID virus struck, pretty much all restaurants and bars were slammed shut, and then slowly, but surely, they were allowed to open with an outdoor area. This meant those businesses that had such a facility were in a very good place to take custom from those that were not.
Others looked immediately to make use of what outdoor areas they had, such as car parks and pavement areas, and as well as being in keeping with regulations; it was also something that customers appreciated, mainly as they felt safer in terms of visiting a location that isn’t their home.
The Benefits of Expanding your Restaurant Outdoors
Depending on your locality and the available areas you may have access to, the increase of space will help to maximize the capacity of your restaurant and has a number of other possible benefits.
The costs associated with fitting out and designing outdoor areas are far lower than indoor spaces. The restaurant furniture typically used is less expensive, and the overall time and energy spent designing and planning a layout are far less than when compared to similarly-sized areas which are inside.
The upkeep of an outside area is also less of a headache than an indoor area but be sure to check the local regulations with regards to this long before you start planning on using an area for your customers.
Possible Return of Coronavirus Guidelines
If the coronavirus pandemic once again bites hard, then it’s very likely that regulations would once again affect indoor areas. By having an outdoor area, you are giving yourself and your restaurant a fighting chance of making the most of such a situation. So be sure to take note of the possible regulations that may be enforced in terms of outdoor capacity and plan accordingly.
Having an outdoor area during the warmer months can be particularly effective when it comes to attracting custom. If your establishment has both an indoor and outdoor area, then you give the customer a choice, and that can only be a positive aspect, and during the summer, you may well drive more business simply by having that option available.
Maintain Your Outdoor Area, Keep it Spotlessly Clean
It’s essential to keep your outdoor area spotless. It not only helps to attract clients to use the area, but it also adds as something of a calling card. In other words, if someone is passing by and notices an unkempt and untidy outside area, they may well think twice about stepping foot into your restaurant.
Make sure to keep the area clean and if there are gardening tasks required, then employ a professional to keep everything in shape.
Let Your Customers Know You Have an Outdoor Area
If your outdoor seating is out the back and not instantly apparent, use good signage so that your customers know that the option of eating outside is an option. This may well help to increase the interest in your restaurant as a whole, so don’t keep it a secret.
Make Sure Your Theme Shines Through
Every restaurant has a theme, or a vibe, even if it’s not an overtly obvious one. Clearly, some eateries have specific themes or are either upscale or homely; the key here is to make sure that this rings true both indoors and outdoors.
In other words, if your restaurant is minimalist and has the pretensions of being high-end, then the outdoor area needs to reflect that. If your backyard seating area is crowded or cluttered, then this will take away from the overall ethos.
Similarly, if your restaurant is homely, family-friendly but your outdoor space is geared more for a young crowd who use it for drinking of an evening, then this isn’t a great combination and could breed alienation in your clientele.
Get the Right Equipment
Make sure your outdoor area has plenty of heaters if needed, and the relevant patio umbrellas and furniture that looks good but can also withstand the changeable climate. Failure to do so might make the area less inviting for guests and pretty much defeats the purpose of having such an area in the first place.
Don’t Just Do It for the Sake Of It
If you are planning on expanding your restaurant business into an outdoor area, do so for the right reasons and not just because you might have space to do so. Plan accordingly and prepare for any eventuality. Make sure you staff up to deal with the expansion and don’t allow the outside area to become a poor reflection on your overall business.