5 Tips for Restaurants With Outdoor Seating

  • Be sure you have basic protection for your diners while they sit outside.
  • Try to get some amount of pest control for your outdoor seating area.
  • Mosquito control, fans, fly traps, or just a basic screen to keep bugs out can go a long way to comfort your diners and protect their food.

With pandemic-related mandates from state governments limiting indoor seating, outdoor seating has become more important to restaurants than ever before. It’s also a great choice to draw in customers during the warm months of summer. Many diners just want to be outside. However, outdoor dining provides its own challenges to restaurant owners. Below are a few tips that can help.

This includes umbrellas or some kind of overhead covering, and could also include fencing in the seating area if needed.

Protect Your Diners from the Elements

One of the biggest challenges in regard to outdoor dining is the weather. This includes both good and bad weather. While rain can be a disaster for your diners, too much sun can also be a serious nuisance. No one wants to get sunburned while trying to enjoy a meal. Consider installing awnings to provide the appropriate shade and protection from sudden precipitation. If awnings are not feasible in the space, at least install patio tables with large umbrellas that can provide the shade and protection needed. Keep a close watch on the weather in general. Don’t be afraid to close the outdoor dining area if needed. Bad weather, such as lightning, can even kill.

Protect Your Diners from Pests

Outdoor pests are another concern you must plan for. For one, the outdoor dining area must be kept clean at all times of the day. If not, food left on the ground can attract pests like seagulls or even rats that can become an extreme nuisance to your guests. Insects are another threat. This is especially the case for parts of the country that experience a mosquito season. If this is the case for your restaurant, you need to install a mosquito control system. Mosquito control systems implement a misting process that removes mosquitoes from your dining area. However, for safety reasons, it should not be operated when diners or food is present.

Protect Your Diners from Trips and Falls

Outdoor dining areas also come with other threats that you should be aware of. The floors on the inside of a restaurant are usually designed with the safety of diners in mind. This may not be the case for an outdoor dining area you created as an after-thought. You need to make sure the surface you plan to add seating on is level and has enough traction. If not, customers could end up tripping and falling. If injuries occur, which is the case 20 to 30 percent of the time, you will end up paying for it via personal injury lawsuits. Make sure that obstacles that could cause an accident are removed from the dining area. Also, make sure the dining area is clearly marked and diners aren’t allowed to wander out of that area.

Make sure there are no big or difficult-to-see steps in your outdoor area. The last thing you want is any customer or waiter falling down in your restaurant. Be sure to put down anti-slip mats at the entrance of your establishment and in appropriate locations outside to protect your customers.

Provide the Proper Lighting

You also have to consider your restaurant’s operating hours when designing an outdoor dining area. Unless you are only open for breakfast and lunch, you will likely need to install the appropriate lighting for dinner guests. Not providing the appropriate amount of lighting can even be dangerous and lead to accidents such as trips, falls, and even choking. Investigate different lighting options that are specifically designed for outdoor commercial use. Choose lighting that will help create an attractive atmosphere for your restaurant. The right lighting can really transform the space.

Choose the Right Furniture

You also have to choose the right furniture for your outdoor dining area. Simply moving the tables and chairs you have inside to the outdoors will not suffice. Those tables and chairs were not designed for the outdoors and may not be able to take the extra punishment they will receive when exposed to direct sunlight and the elements. Instead, invest in some tables and chairs for your outdoor dining area that is actually graded for outdoor use. This will save you money in the long run since they will not wear out as fast. They also won’t suddenly break when in use which could be a risk if you use tables and chairs that are not designed for the outdoors.

There are many benefits to having an outdoor dining area. It can increase your revenues and help you maintain the kind of business you need during the pandemic. However, serving food outdoors does come with its own challenges. Make sure you create a safe and enjoyable environment for your outdoor diners by taking the steps outlined above.

Sheryl Wright

Sheryl Wright is a freelance writer who specializes in digital marketing, inclusive business, and interior design. If she is not at home reading, she is at a farmers market or climbing in the Rockies. She currently lives in Nashville, TN, with her cat, Saturn.

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