It cannot be argued that the dining room, bar and the kitchen are the most important parts of a new restaurant, but for some reason, the outside dining area often receives very little attention. It is the first area that customers see, so it needs to be made interesting, comfortable and hospitable. Here are a few tips on how to attract patrons using the outdoor dining area.
Designed Business Sign
Towns and municipalities often have strict regulations on the type of business signs that are allowed in public places. Before you open the door of your new restaurant, make sure to read the regulations that concern your field of business. Once you know what is allowed and what isn’t, hire a professional sign maker to create a custom sign specifically for your restaurant.
You can print the menus yourself, but think twice about making your own street sign. Sadly, there were many good restaurants that had short business runs simply because they didn’t invest in a professional outside sign. A homemade plywood sign and a soft drink banner will only shout out ‘It is cheap in here. And nothing more.’
A glass menu case posted next to the entrance is a smart way to display your menu and make passers-by interested in the offer. Make sure the menu board is well-lighted so potential customers can read it in the evening as well. An outside chalkboard with daily and nightly menu specials is a great complement to the cased menu.
To avoid misunderstandings, post all the signs concerning your restaurant outside the entrance. These include parking signs, cell phone use, no smoking, pets, and of course open/close hours. Even if this signage is not covered by local regulations, it is a display of professionalism and trust that customers appreciate. When done professionally, these signs last longer than printed or handwritten copies.
Proper lighting is essential for creating a relaxed atmosphere as well as for customer safety. Indirect outdoor lights on the façade will provide light without making customers feel as if they are under a helicopter searchlight. Especially in the summertime, festive lights wound through window boxes and planters can create a more romantic atmosphere.
You will definitely find some outdoor furniture in your local big box store, but getting quotes from a specialised restaurant equipment supplier will give you much more options. They offer sturdy patio furniture that is ideal for commercial use, and often cater to a variety of styles. If you have enough space, place a bench or two for customers that are waiting.
Protection from the Elements
While natural tree canopies are totally free and environmentally-friendly sun protection, they may not be the best solution for an area where food is served. An awning has two purposes, it shelters the customers from sun and rain and it can double as a sign for your business. At Sydney Shade, you can find cantilever shade umbrellas that maximise the space in the shade and have canopies with 50+ UPF. These can aesthetically enhance the surroundings of any location and maximise personal comfort in your outdoor dining area.
Improve your restaurant’s ambience and hospitality with music. Many popular restaurant chains have their playlists and use quiet music to create a livelier feel inside. Planters on the walkway sides or window boxes are low-cost options that will dress up any dining patio. Even if you are not inclined to gardening, there is probably someone on your staff who would happily take time off to water and prune the plants when needed.
An outdoor dining area of a restaurant is what gives it kerb appeal. If you put in some effort to make it look professional, hospitable and comfortable, you can expect a lot more customer traffic.