With spring already under way (at least in most parts of the States) many people are looking to take advantage of the longer days and warmer nights. This raises the question of how restaurants can take advantage of this fact, and make some more money off the warm season. Thankfully, this question has a simple and forthright answer, the patio.
Prior to setting up your patio, it must be said that under certain circumstances putting a couple chairs and tables in front of your establishment may be against the law if you do not have the proper permits. For example, the city of Chicago has a “Sidewalk Café Permit” which can only be used for certain months and must be renewed annually. Another consideration before setting up a new patio is if you can handle it. Do you have extra kitchen, bar and dish-pit capacity? Is there enough room for more than just a few tables? If an outdoor space is small, could servers forget about the tables as the inside becomes busier? Will the space require another POS to be able to give proper service? These are all things that must be thought through prior to diving into a patio space.
So you have your required permits, and have decided to go ahead with setting up your patio area, now its time to put it all together. First, take a good look at the patio space and your restaurant as a whole. You never want to have a patio that doesn’t flow with the entirety of your restaurant. Trying to go for the rustic tree stump stools and vintage leather benches, or the sleek metal chairs with sturdy tables and large parasols? Whatever you decide to go with, just make sure it is in line with your establishment’s concept.
Aside from the typical aspects of most patios you will find, such as allowing pets, having some kind of roof or awning for weather, and having a central focus, such as a water fountain or fire pit, there are other things you can do with a patio to make it more of an experience than just an extension on your dining area. People like a show, and the easiest way for a restaurant to put on a show is to do what they do best, cook and make drinks. If space is available, an outside barbecue pit, pizza oven, or bar can all be enticing ways to entertain customers, send the smell of delicious food wafting down the street to bring in hungry guests, and make your patio area feel more planned out. Also, with the outdoor bar, there is little better in the warmer months than sitting up at a bar while outside, especially in the evenings.
Finally, with the warmer months, come the bugs. The last thing that a customer wants to see is a fly landing on their burger, or a mosquito that won’t stop buzzing around their head. Consider bug zappers, screens around your patio, avoiding planting flowers that attract bees, and possibly planting mosquito repellent plants like citronella grass to help fight the infestation. It is also important to make sure your patio is clear of garbage at all times.