As the seasons shift and the weather gets nicer, diners become more inclined to go out and dine outside. Now that people are finally able to enjoy the weather, they want to—and this "patio weather" can help you attract more diners. If you want to improve the likelihood of diners coming in to enjoy your restaurant's outdoor seating, here are a few tips.
Renovate Your Patio Area
If your patio area is a little older, now is the time to renovate. Purchase new furniture, decorate, and paint. If you have stained ground or fences, consider a once over with a power washer. Adding some cheerful landscaping, such as new spring flowers, around the patio area can help with the ambience.
Invest in Additional Shelter
Umbrellas, awnings, and other types of shelter will ensure that your patio remains usable regardless of the weather. Even if the sun gets unexpectedly hot, guests will be able to hunker down beneath an umbrella. Even during cooler days, diners seldom want the sun shining directly in their eyes.
Keep Heaters on Standby
Electric heaters and fire pits can be used to both decorate an outdoor patio and improve comfort. Heaters can be used during the cooler nights to encourage diners to stay longer and enjoy their food and drinks. Heaters can also be used as a standby, in the event that a warm day turns suddenly cooler. Spring can be very unpredictable and the last thing you want is for your diners to have a negative experience.
Add Some Patio Games
Patio games such as cornhole or giant Jenga can easily draw people in, as well as giving them something to do even when it's colder out. If your patio area still isn't really usable for diners, you still may be able to make it usable for more active activities. Cornhole around a fire pit can be pleasant even during winter, as people are up and moving around.
Book Weekend Entertainment
Live bands and live musicians are an excellent draw for an outdoor patio space—just make sure you get the appropriate permits from the city. During the weekend, many potential diners may walk by, see live music, and stop in. Not only does this promote your restaurant in the short-term, but it also makes sure you have increased awareness of your business long-term.
Direct Your Guests to the Patio
If you don't often use your restaurant's patio space, even regular guests may not realize that the patio is open. Have your hosts let guests know that the patio is an option; some people won't expressly request patio seating but will gladly take it if it's available. If they have a pleasant experience on the patio, they're likely to request it again next time.
Add Advertising on the Sidewalk
Get guests to stop by impulsively through sidewalk advertising. Placing a sandwich board in front of your patio can draw people in, especially if you feature something like a drink special or a limited-time food item. If your patio is in the front, it serves as advertising for your entire restaurant. Make sure you have your current events and specials visibly featured.
Consider a Patio Bar
Having an additional bar outside within your patio area is often a great way to improve customer service, reduce serving times, and encourage diners to stay longer and order more. If you have enough of a customer base to support a second bar, you can create a patio bar and staff it with an employee only during the busier times. Just make sure you’re ready for a new area with enough restaurant supplies.
To Have Dogs or Not to Have Dogs
One of the biggest decisions restaurants and bars often have to make is whether they want to allow dogs on their patios. For most, this is going to be customer driven. If your customers frequently have pets, allowing dogs is a major selling point: many people look for places that expressly allow dogs. If your customer base is unlikely to appreciate it, however, it could actually become detrimental.
Many people tend to stay inside during the worst of the winter weather, so warmer weather is an excellent opportunity to start drawing in guests and building additional revenue. By updating your patio space and drawing in passersby, you can enter into the spring with a boom.