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8 Design Tricks to Elevate Your Outdoor Dining

Outdoor dining grew popular when pandemic restrictions forced local restaurants to get creative. Now they’re a way to bring in additional revenue and cater to different demographics. Nowadays, having an outside space for guests is a no-brainer if you have the room and budget.

Since many businesses are continuing and expanding their outside eating options post-pandemic, it’s time to rethink your own space. You must find ways to elevate your outdoor dining to stand out from the crowd. 

These tips will help you design an open-air dining experience patrons will want to visit over and over. 

Use Your Space Creatively

Does your restaurant still need an outside space? Your eatery’s vibe and footprint will determine the best form of outdoor eating. If you have minimal space, your best options are to add sidewalk or rooftop dining. Adding tables and decor to your storefront is the cheapest option, but terrace seating looks more upscale. 

When you have the ground-level space to expand, patio dining can match any restaurant’s aesthetic. Meeting with a construction professional will help you assess your options and keep your plan within budget. 

Keep Enough Distance

It’s tempting to cram as many tables as possible into your outdoor dining space to increase profit. However, seating guests on top of one another will leave them dissatisfied and less eager to return. Spread your tables with enough distance in between to keep patrons comfortable. 

Maintaining extra room between your tables will establish a suitable walkway for your restaurant’s needs. Servers can deliver food more efficiently and create a better guest experience. It will also make your outdoor dining area accessible to diners of all abilities. 

Invest in High-Quality Furniture

Outdoor furniture is exposed to the elements, so it takes more of a beating than your indoor furnishings. You must be willing to pay for high-quality items designed to withstand temperature changes, sun, rain and wind. Waterproof fabrics are more expensive, but they’ll last you longer than other varieties and won’t have you rushing curtains and cushions inside every time it rains. 

Your furniture also needs to use hearty, weather-resistant materials. Teak is a good option if you must have wood. For metal, you should splurge on stainless steel, so it’s heavy enough to stay put and will resist rusting. The best option for outdoor furniture is plastic. Gone are the days of flimsy, cheap-looking plastic patio selections. Now, you can find strong composite options in various finishes and colors.   

Install Multiple Forms of Lighting

Lighting for outdoor spaces is necessary for long-term success. Otherwise, you’d need to close your open-air dining space as soon as the sun starts to set. Keep guests happy all evening by installing lighting throughout. 

Small table lamps, wall sconces and string lights create a romantic and intimate atmosphere. Pendants bring added brightness and are customizable for any design aesthetic. 

Assess your space in the evening from every angle so you know each location has enough lighting — add more lamps as needed.  

Keep Pests at Bay

Any outdoor space will deal with its fair share of pests, but adding lights will amplify the issue. Keep guests happy and safe by adding citronella candles to deter bugs. You can also add zappers around the perimeter of your dining area. Although, you’ll want to ensure you get a quietly operating machine — loud pops or sizzles will turn guests off of their appetite. 

Maintain a Comfortable Temperature

Most restaurants could use some form of temperature control in their outdoor eating area. When the weather is overly hot, fans installed on the side of your building or overhead will keep your guests cool. Space heaters will let guests eat outside longer when temperatures drop in late fall. With these measures, you can extend the seasons of availability for your outdoor dining. 

Create a Sense of Seclusion

While you want your open-air dining area to be connected to the natural world, you also want it to feel separate from the street and the rest of town. Your eating space should have a sense of peace and seclusion. 

Fences are a simple solution — you can choose a solid fence for the most privacy or an aluminum design with space between the posts to let in more sunshine. Look at a variety of different styles before you choose one for your space. 

Make Your Space Stand Out With Extra Features

Add extra features to make your outdoor dining area stick out from the pack. Choose something to entertain or wow guests, ensuring repeat business. Your selection should also mesh with the vibe of your restaurant. 

Entertainment options could include an area for popular activities like horseshoes or cornhole. Patrons eating outside might enjoy having TVs available or a small stage for live performances. 

A water feature or fire pit creates the perfect ambiance for a lounging area. Add an outdoor bar to serve customers who are done eating and want to visit with one another more comfortably. Provide extra seating like mini sofas or benches.

Filter Design Decisions Through Your Branding

Your outdoor dining area should feel like an extension of your brand rather than a separate entity. You want the space to feel unique and special, but it must still reflect your core values and design style. As you choose features to add to your patio, rooftop or sidewalk dining, consider how they will add to your restaurant’s personality. 

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