The summer months are an exciting time for restaurant owners with customers coming out of winter hibernation. You will notice your sales will start to boom in comparison to the winter months. So whether you live in the warm sunshine all year long or you’re looking to take advantage of the summer rays, consider transforming your unused outdoor space into a profitable patio destination. Outdoor dining areas range from simple sidewalk stop overs to lavish beachfront bars. Is your restaurant’s patio ready to go for the summer rush?
There are a few points that you will need to consider in advance to make sure all your efforts are successful so let us show you how to prepare for a profitable season outdoors.
1. CHECK LOCAL LAWS
First and foremost, just because you have an outdoor space that actually doesn’t mean you can just go ahead and use it for alcohol and food service. You need to make sure you look into local, state and federal laws/regulations around patios for your restaurant or bar. Remember each state is different so make sure to check out all the info in your state.
Don’t forget that you might need to run electricity for lighting or your point-of-sale system or things like plumbing & gas if you want to do food preparation or have a full bar outside. You even need to check on local laws around allowing peoples furry friends to sit on your patio. Don’t leave any detail unattended to.
Similar to that of seating strategies inside, ideally you want to have a strategic setup of tables and chairs outside-selling the right seat to the right customer at the right price and for the right duration of time. A strategic setup includes understanding your target market, their ideal length of stay, and average party size in addition to overall space for comfort and traffic flow for guests and staff. Again, this additional seating must also align with production levels in the kitchen and bar. What would happen if you were at full capacity, both inside and outside? Have a plan in place and analyze your revenue per available seat-hour to maximize each moment throughout the day.
You also need to remember to stay true to your brand identity. Are you trying to create an ambiance? Or simply add more tables to maximize your space?Remember, while adding atmospheric elements to your patio reduces the amount of people you can seat, it can create a memorable experience guests will want to visit often. A smaller seating section also creates exclusivity. This can build demand and excite guests looking to enjoy the warm weather outdoors.
Take the time to meet with your pest control vendor and discuss your plans for outside. They can suggest safe bug repellents and means of keeping away other animals and critters like mice, squirrels and even birds. Sanitation is a critical component in any restaurant and the patio cannot be overlooked. Put a preventative action plan in place to deter any bugs or animals from potentially ruining a guest’s experience. There’s nothing worse then eating outside and being attacked by flies or seeing furry critters run by.
You may want to consider creating an outdoor bar station whether it offers full service to patrons, or is a quick service bar for your waitstaff. It offers many benefits like serving customers who are waiting for tables, or allowing your waitstaff to turn tables quicker with faster service.
5. OUTDOOR COOKING
If you have the space for it, you could bring kitchen equipment onto your patio including grills, pizza ovens, and outdoor smokehouses. The intoxicating smell of barbecue on the grill or margarita pizza fresh from the oven will entice customers walking by and encourage patrons to spend more on food.
Your restaurant will instantly become more transparent as guests can see there food being cooked right in front of them, providing visual confirmation that what they’re getting is fresh.
6.MAKE A PLAN FOR MOTHER NATURE
Nowhere is immune to inclement weather. Here are a few tips to prepare your patio for weather that may not be conducive to outdoor dining:
- Stay on top of wiping and drying tables and chairs after a rain storm
- Add outdoor heaters for those chilly summer nights
- Make sure to have shade whether its umbrellas or deck covers
- Place fans or misters for those super hot days that are unbareable
- Be prepared to shut down the space and have a plan for seating your guests elsewhere if the weather gets too bad.
7.BE STRATEGIC WITH YOUR POS
As patios are only seasonal spaces, they are not always ideally located. Stop servers from having to run back and forth to the bar, kitchen, and terminal by investing in a point-of-sale system that offers handheld operations like PointOS.
A handheld system can be fully integrated sending orders directly to the kitchen, includes inventory information. Your guests can easily pay, sign, and tip right at the table allowing faster more efficient services for your guests. Overall creating a more pleasant experience and turning tables quicker.
8. DON’T FORGET TO ADVERTISE
A great patio season could be destroyed if it’s not coupled with a great marketing campaign. It is vital to inform your guests of your patio and the plans you have for it throughout the season. Warm weather attracts tourism and gets locals looking to re-explore their surroundings. The restaurants and bars that provide the right mix of planning and energy are the ones that will attract a consistent level of guests throughout the patio season. Look for ways to utilize live music, theme parties, unique menus and interactive games on a daily or weekly basis throughout the patio season to drive seasonal success.
Remember there is no detail too small so make sure your conscious of your customers’ outdoor dining experience as you will gain a competitive advantage during the warm days of summer. A happy customer means a happy restaurant bottom line.
What other things would you recommend for a great patio experience for a restaurant or bar? Tell us in the comments below.
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See you next week!
Your devoted hostess,