Updated: Feb 20, 2021
Now is the perfect time to upgrade your restaurant’s outdoor space to give diners an all-star al fresco dining experience.
There’s nothing better than enjoying a great meal outdoors. For restaurant owners, having an outdoor space for patrons to enjoy their meal can mean both extra revenue and extra appeal for diners looking for fresh air with their meal.
Right now during the COVID-19 pandemic, outdoor dining is more important than ever. With differing restrictions on indoor dining, a restaurant’s outdoor seating has become an essential aspect of the business. Now, restaurants that have never considered outdoor dining before are thinking about how best to utilize their outdoor spaces to keep patrons safe, happy and comfortable.
Outdoor dining has also become a wellness trend, not only during this pandemic, but also because being out in nature has been shown to lower heart rate and blood pressure and even decrease stress hormones. And we all need a little less stress in our lives! For restaurant owners, this decreased stress can come with an increased profit, since outdoor seating can increase your revenue by up to 30%.
Here are a few smart ways to upgrade your outdoor space for happy customers and more revenue:
Control the Weather
What’s the most important factor when it comes to restaurant patrons’ interest in outdoor seating? Turns out it’s something that might be beyond your control: the weather. According to a survey from Full Service Restaurant News and Study Hall Research, weather was the most important decision driving customers to, or away from, outdoor dining. Another important factor influencing the outdoor dining decision is overhead coverings.
You might not be able to control the weather, but there are certainly solutions for restaurants that want to make their outdoor seating sections more comfortable, no matter the temperature. For instance, motorized awnings can be a great way to keep your patrons cool when the sun is hot and beating down on your outdoor seating section. Being able to control your motorized awnings from a remote, smartphone app, or even with voice control means it’s easy to extend an awning when you notice part of your outdoor space roasting in the sun. Having overhead covering is important to diners because it keeps them protected from the elements so they can focus on enjoying their meal.
While the survey found that decorative fireplaces were a take-or-leave item for outdoor diners, it’s important to realize that heat sources can be an important aspect of weather control. When the weather begins to cool down, having an outdoor heater or fire pit can keep diners toasty while they enjoy their meal. You might not be able to fully control the weather, but with smart tech solutions you can still take control of your customer’s outdoor experience.
Find the Right View
One of the best parts of outdoor dining is the view. The Study Hall Research survey found 82% of diners said they enjoy eating outdoors more when on vacation, so it’s time to invest in your outdoor space to cultivate those vacation vibes. Outdoors spaces that look onto parking lots or brick walls are naturally going to be less appealing than scenic vistas or oceanside tables.
Of course, not every restaurant has room for rooftop seating or a location next to a beautiful garden. Instead, work with what you have. Invest in adding greenery to your outdoor space or find a fun theme for your outdoor seating section. If your outdoor section has some visual interest, customers will be more excited about eating their meal in your space. Embracing a quirky theme or going all out to make your outdoor space beautiful can also garner you buzz and even bring customers from all over for your unique outdoor space.
Take a Shot on Outdoor Bars
Don’t forget the drinks! According to a study, more than 40% of Millennials said they spent more on drinks when dining outdoors. Outdoor spaces can be great places to stop to get a drink while a customer waits for an indoor table. They’re also a great place to spend time with friends and family and enjoy a drink while enjoying the scenery. If you’re ignoring your outdoor bar, you could be leaving money on the table. Creating a cool, stylish place for customers to have a drink is a great way to expand your clientele and make your outdoor dining space even more dynamic.
Light up Their Meal
Don’t forget, your outdoor space might not have the same lighting setup as your indoor dining room. It’s important to make sure your customers can see their food, even when it gets dark. A single tea light candle on the table is probably not going to help your customer see where their steak is on a dark plate.
While you’re keeping your outdoor dining space cool and ensuring it’s beautifully decorated, don’t forget the lighting. Somfy offers a Dimmable LED Light Kit that attaches to the arms of your motorized awning and can be dimmed or brightened with the same remote you use to control the awning.
Smart lighting in general can be a great idea for outdoor dining, especially if you connect your smart lights with other smart products like motorized awnings and screens. Then you can create scenes and schedules, so your products extend, lower, and light up automatically. Plus, most smart lights have fun features like different color settings, so you can really give your outdoor space some extra ambiance.
Creating comfortable, cool, and beautiful outdoor dining spaces should be a priority for any restaurant. Diners love eating outdoors and by making it more comfortable to do so, restaurants can attract more customers and earn more revenue.
Call AwningUp at 800-201-1160 today for a Price Quote on Your Next Retractable Awning System.