By Megan Prevost
By July, most restaurants are deep into their summer patio season. But are you making the most of your outdoor space?
Having an outdoor seating area is a huge draw for any local restaurant, and even more so when the patio itself offers additional features not found in the regular restaurant.
Setting up a patio itself is conceptually pretty simple. With a little design know-how and some work, putting the room together is a quick process. But having a patio is just the first step to creating the appeal you need to attract summer revelers in droves.
If you’re looking to bring the party to your patio, here are some quick tips to maximize appeal.
Think about the details
When putting together your patio, the space itself is the platform on which to build. Don’t be arbitrary in your design choices; Take the time to ensure you’re maintaining a consistent aesthetic with the rest of your space. If you have the option of building or expanding an outdoor bar operation, it is worth seriously considering. Even an outdoor service for your servers can help grease the wheels of an evening church service. When there is the option of outdoor bar seating, this is one of the most appealing options for many guests.
Beyond aesthetics, consider the realities of al fresco dining. Is there a way to proactively avoid the inevitability of flies, mosquitoes, or other outdoor pests? Do you have fans or devices to keep your guests and staff cool? Getting the job done to create a comfortable front-end dining environment can help you avoid problems down the road. Creating this environment in advance means memories of good experiences, and that leads to returning guests for weeks (and possibly years) to come.
hype it up
After you’ve set up your patio, the next and most obvious step is the one that’s central to every part of a restaurant’s appeal: you need to publicize it. Have your waiters offer to guide guests onto the patio if they enter or start falling smooth flyers next to checks or receipts advertising the terrace.
To make a strong impression, adding a promotion to flyers like these along with a coupon specific to patio dining is a great way to build hype. Publish posts on your company’s social media with the same branding to maintain a consistent aesthetic. Feel free to use physical signage as well. Provision of a sandwich board on a sidewalk might be a bit old school, but it still draws looks, including from people driving by.
Bring the fun
If you’re really hoping to drive business to your patio, make it a unique experience compared to indoor dining! Patios tend to create an atmosphere of spontaneity and relaxation, and this should be reflected in the way you curate your outdoor experience.
If you plan to offer bar service on your terrace, consider adding a special menu that is exclusive to al fresco guests, e.g. B. a happy hour on the terrace or even a weekend brunch. Some businesses, like juice bars, are perfect for walk-in windows with ample seating. To keep Flyer style menus available to grab easily to pique the interest of potential customers. If you can provide entertainment such as live music or other entertainment, explore your options! As long as the show doesn’t disrupt the cohesion of your community, you’re only enhancing a guest’s experience and enticing them to return.
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Keep an ear out
Every major city has events that are close to their hearts. Festivals, sporting events, concerts – no matter what’s happening in the city, a summer terrace is one of the best places to hang out before or after events. If you keep an eye on the calendar, you have the opportunity to plan certain specials around events. For example, if your hometown is hosting a series of playoff games, offer a curated menu that gives guests a fixed menu of simple options.
That way, you’ve fine-tuned the experience and have a chance to expose it to your menu’s quick hits. You can also focus on a set period of time. The prefixes menu could run up to half an hour after starting a game. While this example is very specific, there is no upper limit to how best to incorporate your patio into community events. Guests could bring tickets or programs with them and also received a 10 percent discount on a meal. Patios are also a great place to watch parties, so put up some screens and get the community together for a party and an after party.
Think about your team
The patio is likely a much more active, fast-paced environment than the quieter space inside. It’s important to keep this in mind when deciding which of your team members is best suited for this environment. These people need to be your A players who can comfortably keep the tempo fast and feel covered with the atmosphere.
Remember, keep them hydrated and motivate them to feel positive. If they can enjoy their shift at work, they’ll pass that positive attitude on to your guests. Consider including a short extra workout specifically for patio work to ensure they fit well in the space. Ensure dedicated patio only support staff is available if needed to keep up the pace.
In addition, you should also ensure that employees are prepared to work long hours in the heat. Customers need to stay cool, but so should your employees! Patio workers may need more breaks, a supply of sunscreen, or even a personal fan to keep them cool on hot nights.
harvest the fruits
With a little effort and planning, patios can add dimensions to the dining experience in your space. You don’t just want to create a room with more chairs, you want to be outside. By making sure the patio experience has a special appeal, you give your regulars a new way to experience their favorite spot, or you could attract people who don’t normally think of your business.
With a little attention to detail, a few fun ideas, and a great staff, you can make your summer patio the talk of the town.
Megan Prevost is a Contributing Writer for RestoBiz and Content Manager for Must have menus. Her work has also been featured in App Institute, Bar Business, Modern Restaurant Management, Small Business Currents, PMQ, FSR, The Daily Fandom, and FanSided.