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It’s time to take your dining room outside… or, if you embraced outdoor dining last year, it’s time to reopen and level up.
Offering outdoor dining should go beyond simply setting up some tables and chairs on a pavement. Take the opportunity to turn your eatery into an al fresco dining destination – all you need is the right outdoor dining supplies. Start with eye-catching signage, then add special menu offerings and a touch of kerb appeal.
1. Outdoor banners
Vinyl banners can help decorate and define your outdoor dining area. Hang a few to create an on-brand barrier that encloses your seating area, or place one by the entrance to attract customer attention from across the street. Make sure to design each banner with your restaurant’s brand colours and logo.
Give customers information about safety protocols, menu specials and upcoming events with something highly visible… like a poster. If you’re communicating safety information, go for straightforward visuals in attention-grabbing colours with concise messaging. If you’re promoting something fun, like an event or drink special, include vibrant photos of your most colourful dishes and Instagram-ready cocktails. Don’t forget to add your logo to each poster design.
3. Sheet stickers
In addition to branding take-away containers, sheet stickers can be used to accept touch-free payments or view digital menus… just add a QR code, then stick it on tables for easy scanning. QR codes have made a comeback recently, especially at restaurants – and with a digital menu, you’ll be able to make updates quickly and easily. Plus, you won’t have to spend time sanitising physical menus after each party has finished their meal.
No need to worry about broken glass. Instead, serve drinks in recycled-paper cups branded with your logo, a sticker or stamped with a fun tagline.
How to make the experience extra-memorable:
Set up a user-friendly reservation process or waiting list system.
The outdoor dining experience should be seamless and stress-free for your customers. A reservation platform or functional waiting list system is a great way to streamline seating and cut down on waiting times. Let customers reserve a table online themselves using your business’s website or a third-party platform. Or, if customers want to walk in for a table, make that process easy too. Give them a realistic estimate of the time they’ll need to wait and invite them to grab a drink at the bar in the meantime (if space or legal restrictions permit this). Offer to text them when their table is ready so they can explore the local area while they wait.
Design an outdoor-friendly menu.
Streamline your outdoor dining service by creating a limited menu – you’ll make things easier on your waiters and the kitchen if you pare down your offering. Also, consider serving dishes and drinks that are easy to transport and eat in an outdoor setting. (A bustling terrace probably isn’t the best place to make guacamole tableside or serve a flaming cocktail.) Keep things simple and let customers enjoy the al fresco experience you’ve worked to create.
Offer exciting promotions & events.
Turn your terrace into a dining destination with special events and outdoor-only offers. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Hire a local musician or band to play live music one (or more!) nights a week.
- Attract customers with a dog-friendly happy hour or a singles night.
- Host Sunday brunch with a different theme each week: Morris dancing, sports, Hollywood, 1980s… you get the idea.
- Draw in customers on slow nights with special offers and promotions, like ‘Cocktail Tuesdays’ for example.
Create a pleasant dining atmosphere.
Your outdoor dining space should be an extension of your indoor dining room, especially in terms of ambiance. Use planter boxes to define your space and decorate it with fresh flowers and candles to help diners forget they’re sitting on a pavement or next to a busy street.
One of the trickiest parts of running an outdoor eatery is coping with the weather… so, do your best to make sure you’re prepared for everything. From heat lamps to awnings, be ready to weatherproof your patio and keep customers comfortable.
Everything you need for an outdoor dining experience:
- Outdoor banners
- Sheet stickers
- A reservation system
- An outdoor-friendly menu
- Weekly promotions
- An events calendar
- An appealing patio space