The pandemic has played a significant role in changing consumer behavior, pushing the restaurant industry to become flexible. One way of adapting to the industry is the rise in outdoor dining facilities.
Having an outdoor dining space also opens up new business opportunities. Aside from offering pickups, takeouts, and online deliveries, restaurants can now accept dine-in customers. In fact, according to the National Restaurant Association, 84% of diners want outdoor dining spaces to stay even if the pandemic is gone.
Outdoor dining spaces are also a great way of providing safety for both staff and diners. If your restaurant still lacks outdoor dining space, or you already have one but needs improvement, this article can help you out. Here are some tips on how you can create the perfect outdoor dining space for your customers.
Follow Laws and Regulations for Putting Up Outdoor Dining Space
Your first task is to check for laws and regulations to adhere to when putting up an outdoor dining space for your restaurant. There may be local, state, and federal laws that will require you to get permits to operate in this manner.
While it can take time and paperwork, regulations are suitable for your business. You will know if you can provide smoking areas or pet-friendly sections in your outdoor space through it. Regulations can also help you see if you can give live band performances or serve alcohol to your customers. More importantly, regulations can help you learn about plumbing and electrical requirements that you should apply on your outdoor space.
Check Required Health and Safety Protocols
In the same way, it’s essential to check with local, state, and federal agencies what health and safety protocols you should implement in your establishment. There could be outdoor dining permits and rules you have to follow to keep your staff and customers safe against the risk of coronavirus.
Once official health and safety protocols are in place, your business should also develop its distancing and sanitation rules.
For your outdoor dining space, section it off where it can’t interfere with passing pedestrians and cause distancing issues. Provide clear directions where customers can wash their hands. At the same time, position tables following the 6-feet distancing protocol. Each table should have clear divisions and the seating capacity reduced.
For your customers, use disposable menus and cutlery to avoid contamination. After your staff clear each table, make sure they sanitize each table as well.
For your team, provide them with necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitizing supplies.
Design Your Space Layout and Choose the Right Furniture and Decor
With all that checked off your list, you can now design the layout of your outdoor dining space with peace of mind.
Customers love dining outdoors because of the ambiance. But you also have to consider other factors including service bar and cooking facilities. They would make great additions to your outdoor dining space. They can provide convenience both for your staff and customers. However, it’s essential to ask yourself if it would be feasible.
Once you finish designing the layout, you can proceed with choosing the right furniture and decor. Remember that you’ll be creating private space, so choose furniture and decor to foster that feeling.
Develop a Weather Plan
One of the disadvantages of dining outdoors is the possibility of being exposed to weather elements. While no space is free from rain, heat, and snow, you can provide a safe place for your customers even when they’re dining in your outdoor space. You can develop and weather plan that will cover all of this.
Your weather plan should include what protection you can provide for your customers against heat, rain, and cold weather.
When it’s too hot outdoors or if there’s a drizzle, the right equipment can help provide shade and shelter for your customers. Consider installing solar patio shades to keep customers cool during hot summer days and dry during rainy days. Add in some waterproof vinyl curtains when it’s raining too.
If the weather outside is too cold, provide heaters in strategic places within your outdoor dining space. During the nighttime, consider adding candles to each table. This can help customers to keep warm.
Outdoor dining spaces provide new opportunities for the struggling dine-in restaurant industry. And although governments are starting to fight the pandemic, it looks like outdoor dining is here to stay. But that’s a good thing. According to On the Line magazine, restaurants that add an outdoor space to their establishment can expect a 65% increase in their revenue. Considering that most dine-in customers prefer to eat outdoors, it’s the best time to add one to your restaurant.
To help you create an outdoor dining space for your restaurant, you can follow these tips.