Imagine yourself enjoying a meal outside on the restaurant’s patio. Eating delicious food and sipping iced tea while basking in the sun, sitting with friends or family. The feeling of being at your favorite place is one that we can all relate to and appreciate.
Outdoor seating can provide a more natural and relaxed environment for your customers, while still providing them with the same level of service as indoor seats. Outdoor diners can enjoy the fresh air which is much better than eating inside where it smells like food all day. Patio areas also create a calming atmosphere that will help you relax before or after a hectic day at work.
In this article, we will show you the benefits and downsides of having outdoor seating in a restaurant without sugarcoating it! Outdoor seating may be the cause of how customers choose your restaurant above all, let’s get started!
More seats for the customers
The first benefit that you will instantly recognize is the increased seats for the customers. Whether you decide to add a couple of tables or a huge patio area with all the treats, more customers are always good!
It’s no secret that when you have more customers you will generate more money. Al fresco dining doesn’t increase your revenue only because of the seats. Outdoor seats will attract many more customers and if you are living in a warm area without outdoor seating, the chances are that a huge portion of potential customers won’t even look at restaurants without outdoor seating, therefore that’s a potential cut from your revenue!
More enjoyable ambiance
Regardless of your decorating skills, outdoor seating has always a little ambiance in them. Add the great décor choices, comfortable chairs to sit on, maybe some parasols, light music, low lighting, and small plants or statues will practically pull the people from the streets. You don’t need to rely solely on your décor skills because nature provides its own inducements with sun and a gentle wind.
Imagine if a customer would bring a large dog inside of the restaurant, that could make some chaos but outdoors seating on the other hand offers a chance for pet owners to come and enjoy your offerings. There’s no harm for a dog sitting with the customers on the outside so that’s another customer base that you have reached with outdoor seating.
Decreased stress levels
It goes without saying that dining outside will have a more relaxed feel to it. There are also a lot of studies that show the vast benefits that will affect people’s minds, stress levels, and moods that can even improve the whole day. There are also other benefits to eating outside for example lower blood pressure, increased focus, and memory.
More menu opportunities
When adding proper outdoor seating to your business, opens some new exciting doors for you to experiment on. For example, you could add an outside bar with an exclusive menu with different drinks, craft beers, special cocktails, and much more. A beer garden will attract a lot of people into your restaurant and the profit margins on alcoholic beverages are on the roof! Just something you should consider.
More event opportunities
When you have outdoor seating, the event and entertainment opportunities are big! You can hire a simple guitar player that could play some relaxing around music or if you want to have a party you can hire a band that could attract a lot of people into your establishment. I have listed some event ideas that are great for the outdoors.
- Offer live music
- Host an outdoor movie night
- Having a BBQ
- Hosting a family fun day
With these benefits, sunny days are like small moments in paradise. However, with these kinds of perks, there are some cons as well so before jumping into the al fresco train you should hear the other side as well.
As great a perk as the weather can be, it can be also your worst enemy. I suspect that your restaurant can’t control the weather, which can change suddenly and cause some difficulties. This could lead to impatient customers with increased waiting times if the majority of the customers would to move inside. If you have a big roof over the seating then this wouldn’t be a problem, it would actually be quite ambient.
The weather and the staff’s need can be in a conflict, let’s take an example. Let’s say that it’s Saturday night with the perfect weather and suddenly it starts to rain. You wouldn’t want to keep that many staff members in the work with a way lesser service need than expected. It works vice versa as well with great weather with way more demand than anticipated for the day.
Most restaurants don’t have outdoor restrooms so if everybody needs to go inside, it can cause increased waiting times to the bathrooms which can lead to anxious customers. Especially if you have a beer garden that can lead to fights between the customers.
There are a lot of perks to investing in outdoor seating with some cons to think about as well. Now, let’s recap what kind of outdoor seating options are there so you can choose the right one for you.
Types of al fresco dining
Patio seating is a great way to enjoy the outdoors when it’s sunny. Patios are often equipped with sofas, chairs, and cushions for the customers to lounge on while listening to soft music in ambient lighting that can be set by candlelight or hanging lamps. The only drawback? If there isn’t a rain cover, shelter, or some form of protection, the patio furniture may get soaked during rain storms!
Sidewalk seating is extremely popular and used for seating. Let’s face it, most restaurants don’t have huge outdoor areas to use or big rooftops to set up, the only way is to use the sidewalk beside the restaurant. Don’t get me wrong, these are extremely convenient and they can be set up really nicely. I personally enjoy sidewalk seating because of the easy access and relaxed vibes. I recommend investing in the furniture because there’s not much more to invest in so make sure they are on point. Also, umbrellas for sun cover are a must!
Rooftop seating isn’t really common in anywhere else but big cities but oh boy when there’s a rooftop to use, things can get wild. Many big cities have rooftop seating which enables beautiful skylines and open landscapes. When taking seating to the roof it usually doesn’t look much before the décor is in order because well… It’s the roof. I would highly recommend investing in plants, beautiful statues, and ornaments so you can have an ambient feeling on the roof.
If you have a beautiful garden-like backyard to use, your restaurant can get even more interesting. Many restaurants in the country have this opportunity and some supplier farms that also happen to be restaurateurs themselves may have restaurants included in their business. The additional bonus is that having such an accessible view gives diners increased appreciation towards the restaurant which can result in them coming back and becoming regulars!
If you are in a position to add outdoor seating into your restaurant, I highly recommend that you do that, depending of course on the area’s usual weather, etc. Adding that many seats with minimal construction costs, you can increase your revenue up to 30% with outdoor seating! That’s not something that you should ignore by any means!
Everybody loves outdoors seating and there’s really no reason why you can’t participate and get a piece of that increased reputation and revenue.