As restaurants around the country reopen, owners are looking for opportunities to recover from months of reduced activity. Although continued capacity restrictions may be limiting their efforts, the summer is upon us and restaurant owners and customers alike are eager to be outside.
To celebrate the arrival of summer – and help restaurants turn additional tables and grow their revenue – we’ve compiled a list of the best ways you can enrich your outdoor patio dining experience and stand out from the competition.
- Comfort First: Make sure your patio dining offers the necessary cover for those hot afternoons and early evenings. A shaded patio – whether from individual table umbrellas, restaurant-quality canopies or sails – provides an inviting, outdoor option for your customers to enjoy their meals as an al fresco dining experience. In addition to the added comfort, umbrellas can also be custom decorated with your restaurant’s logo, slogan or any other theme that you may be planning. A nicely designed sail or retractable umbrella enhances the curb appeal of your restaurant, makes it stand out and engages customers as they pass by.
- A Festive (and festival-like) Experience: Regardless of city or state, one thing they all have in common during the summer months is an abundance of festival activities. From major holidays to art and craft events along the lake, people love a good festival. Coordinate your existing menu options and appetizers with new recipes that thematically align with local festivals. Drive traffic and show your support for the community and the annual events that make our cities great.
- Thirst-Quenching Drinks: Just as important as the food on your menu, summertime drink specials can also deservedly take the spotlight; especially during the summer months when customers are thirstier and looking for new options to cool off from the heat. Think beyond the standard drink menu and share your creativity by offering a variety of interesting and original beverages. Your drink specials will help increase the average spend of your customer and improve the overall image of your restaurant by providing a more comprehensive and social offering.
- Live Music: It’s always a good idea to have background music playing for your guests to enjoy. But when the summer is heating up and your customers are taking things outdoors, consider providing live music as they enjoy their meals. If you have the space, designate an area for local musicians to setup and entertain your guests. Coordinate the style of music with any special menu items as a way to complement the experience. Not only does this give your customers a lasting memory, it also helps support your local music scene.
- Pet-Friendly: People love their pets… a lot! Restaurants are opening up their patios and inviting customers to bring ‘Fido’ and ‘Spot’ along with them. Take advantage of your proximity to local dog parks, groomers and pet stores and advertise on your website and in-house that your patio is open to both human and canine alike. Consider working with local pet shops to promote each other’s business and help spread the word. Be smart about your space and aware of how much room you’ll need to accommodate for our four-legged companions. Bring a separate bowl of water and perhaps a treat for the dogs when serving your customers. Plenty of people research places that allow pets and will come to your patio simply because their dogs can come along. Make them feel welcome and make the most of pets on the patio!
- Dinner and a Movie: Cineplexes have spent millions remodeling their venues to promote the pairing of dinner with a movie. The outdoor drive-in has been a part of our pop culture for decades. Why not combine the two ideas and offer your customers an evening of dinner and a movie under the stars. If your patio space will allow for it, setting up a moderately-sized movie screen and projector is easier than you might think. Dedicate a themed evening of dinner and drinks that enhances the movie experience. Advertise well in advance but also have a back-up plan for those evenings when mother nature has something else to say about it.
- Keep it Social: We all agree that the utilization of social media is a great way to promote your restaurant. Customer experience should always come first, but never take your eye off the ball. Continue to embrace social technology and develop an outdoor patio menu that encourages customer engagement through the digital medium. Make your meals and drinks lively, exciting and photo ready. Encourage customers to share your recipes on their Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts. Be sure to share and promote on your app and website. Make it fun, turn it into a contest and give your guests an incentive to help promote your restaurant’s patio dining experience.
Want an an experts advice on your restaurant patio space? Reach out to us to speak with a member of our team today!