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How to Turn Your Restaurant’s Patio into a Year-Round Dining Destination

Restaurant Operations - October 28, 2020 Written By: Krista Dinsmore

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The weather is getting cooler, and that means it’s time to prepare your restaurant for winter. There are a number of things you can do to boost profits during the winter season, but this year in particular is the time to focus on winterizing your patio.

Outdoor dining can be a steady revenue stream all-year round for many restaurants, and this is particularly true this year where outdoor dining is essential for on-premise guests. COVID-19 is here to stay and your restaurant’s patio is now the key to attracting guests.

Patios are the perfect way to ensure the safety of your staff and guests, while at the same time increasing your seating capacity and driving new income for your business.

The issue is, most patios simply cannot be feasibly left open during the winter months. Guests only want to sit outside during the warmer months and many locations around the world have harsh winters with significant rainfall or high amounts of snowfall.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways that you can winterize your restaurant’s patio and turn it into a dining destination that guests can enjoy all-year round.

Why you should keep your patio this winter

There are many reasons to keep your patio open this winter, and COVID-19 is only a small part of that. Winterizing your restaurant’s patio isn’t just a quick fix during the pandemic, it’s a move that will help you grow your company’s revenue for years to come.

In fact, according to new research from the US-based National Restaurant Association, offering outdoor dining options are “key” to the success of your restaurant moving forward. The research found:

  • 74 percent of full-service and 60 percent of limited-service operators say their restaurant currently offers on-premises outdoor dining on a patio, deck or sidewalk.
  • On average, full-service operators say 44 percent of their restaurant’s daily sales now comes from on-premises outdoor dining.
  • 49 percent of full-service and 25 percent of limited-service operators say they are taking actions to extend the outdoor dining season for their restaurants, including installing tents or patio heaters.
  • 77 percent of full-service and 65 percent of limited-service operators say they would likely take advantage of incentives - such as a tax credit - to help them purchase tents, patio heaters etc., to extend the outdoor dining season.

To help your restaurant maximize the revenue opportunities that come with extending the seasonal life of your patio and turning your outdoor dining area into a year-round experience, Sculpture Hospitality has listed a few tips to consider:

Winterize your outdoor patio with warmth

With the cooler weather that comes with winter, the most important aspect of transforming your outdoor patio into an all-year-round dining experience is to make sure that your patio is warm for guests no matter how cold it is.

It’s likely that during extreme cold spells, rain or snow you will have to close your patio, but with the right heating solution you’ll be able to keep your patio open for the vast majority of the year.

To heat your restaurant’s patio consider options such as patio heaters, outdoor fireplaces or tent structures that keep the heat in and protect your customers from the elements of winter.

Make sure you have the right furniture for changing weather conditions

Your restaurant’s furniture is an important part of your overall environment. Your outdoor patio needs to be aligned with the interior of your restaurant, and should create a comfortable and relaxing space that attracts guests during the winter months.

Most importantly, however, patio furniture should be functional for the season. For example, it’s best to avoid using metal outdoor furniture as these will become cold during the cooler weather. Instead, provide cushioned chairs for extra insulation and additional comfort.

Providing blankets on your chairs that your customers can use to bundle up if they are feeling cold is also a nice touch.

Offer some exclusive outdoor beverage and food options for a unique experience

Keeping your outdoor patio open in the winter gives your restaurant the opportunity to offer guests a completely different experience to the one that they would normally have when dining with your restaurant. Make sure to complement this with some exclusive beverage and food options on your menu.

Consider offering seasonal beverages such as warm cocktails as well as seasonal meals that warm your guests up, this could involve warm risottos or even something fun such as s’mores for dessert. To boost your profitability even further, make sure you implement proper beverage and food inventory management to use up your restaurant’s stock and save on wasted costs.

Food Cost eBook

A cozy patio that keeps your guests warm even in the thick of winter will help your restaurant stand out from its competitors and allow your business to access revenue streams that you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.

If you have any further questions on creating a patio that offers guests a year-round dining experience, or simply want to learn about improving your restaurant’s bottom line through methods such as better inventory management control. Contact the Sculpture Hospitality team of experts today.

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