According to the National Restaurant Association, 35% of restaurants that offer outdoor seating report that it accounts for more than 40% of their average daily sales. And with fall here, your patio space can be adjusted to keep guests coming back for seasonal fun.
Summer and spring might be peak seasons for outdoor dining, but don’t count the other two out, depending on where you’re located. In the fall, the temps are milder, the food is perfect for patio dining, and consumers are still out in force to experience all the fun autumn offers. Lean on the knowledge and supplies you gained during the pandemic. With small tweaks and changes to your outdoor space to fit the season, you can continue to grow revenue, engage guests, and extend al fresco dining — all without hurting your bottom line.
Just as you do for your indoor dining room, consider the flow of service for the outdoor dining area. What will your FOH staff need to be most successful — should you have a fully stocked server station outside? Do you need to move the host stand to an area where the hosts can see and manage guests who are interested in patio seating? Walk through the space with the lens of both a guest and a FOH employee to look for potential bottlenecks and create solutions to address them before you seat outdoor guests.
For streamlined outdoor reservations, consider using a Performance One Source partner like Tables Ready. This waitlist management and text paging system allows you to text guests when their table or food is ready. Enhance customer satisfaction, keep your hosts meeting and greeting, eliminate lines, and use your data to improve staff planning.
And once you have them in the door, products from One Source partner Tablee can provide a solution that digitally captures and communicates your guests’ needs to help you keep track of orders as it gets busy.
Shine On & Set the Mood
Key in on some design ideas that can be budget friendly. A little light can go a long way. Bring in warm lighting elements, including string and bistro lights, lanterns, and candles to create ambiance. Consider your brand and concept and what would match best, whether that’s mason jars with twinkly lights as centerpieces, small tabletop firepits, or even the tiny trendy lamp that’s now popular throughout the industry. Since it’s fall, keep coziness in mind by adding a basket with light blankets for guests to use, space heaters, comfy chairs, and fall décor like pumpkins and gourds.
And a little greenery is sometimes all it takes to bring the fall vibe to your outdoor spaces, as well. Potted plants and flowers like mums, purple pansies, and marigolds (keep bugs away!) are a cost-effective, but fun way to transform space. Or, with fall festivals being so popular, design your outdoor area like a biergarten and push your fall brews, stews, and heartier dishes.
Restaurants became experts in outdoor coverings during the pandemic. If you invested in awnings or tents, get the most out of your money by breaking those bad boys back out. Depending on your operation, take it up a notch by deploying the popular igloos, yurts, or other creative enclosures that dominated restaurant patios throughout COVID. Even portable screens or curtains could be a cost-effective solution. With 75% of diners willing to pay more money for a unique dining experience, getting the most out of your space can help warm up revenue.