Patio season is here! Is your restaurant ready?
Slowly but steadily, the temperature is climbing each week, birds are chirping, and the days are getting longer. Before we know it, restaurant patios will be buzzing again! While most restaurant patios don’t officially open for the season until late May or early June, it’s not too early to start preparing.
Preparing Your Restaurant for Patio Season: Things to Consider
As you think about the upcoming patio season, there’s a lot to keep in mind. Here are a few important things you’ll want to consider, from benefits of using your patio space to logistics, enhancing your space, incorporating new technology, and, of course, any steps needed to reduce risks for your restaurant’s patrons and staff.
First, let’s talk about benefits of your restaurant utilizing patio space: why should you set up your patio for business?
Many guests look forward to the experience of dining on a patio in the summer months. Spending time outdoors in general has major health benefits, such as reducing stress, boosting our moods, and even reducing our risks of certain chronic illnesses!
Patios provide more seating. More seating means you can serve more guests, which expands your restaurant’s operations and revenue – and, of course, gives more patrons the opportunity to dine with you and experience how great your restaurant is. And repeat.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many restaurant patrons have felt safer dining out on a patio rather than inside a restaurant. Outdoor spaces tend to be less crowded than indoor spaces and better ventilated to limit the spread of the coronavirus. A patio provides an opportunity for a night out to someone who might not feel comfortable dining indoors.
Having outdoor space provides opportunities for your restaurant to attract new diners, whether it’s live music space, allowing pets on the patio, or other fun ideas. Plus, a patio gives your restaurant better curb appeal!
There are numerous logistical factors to consider when preparing for patio season, such as:
Do you have any necessary permits from your municipality to open and operate your patio?
Does your restaurant have adequate staff to handle the extra tables on your patio?
Safety & COVID-19
How will you ensure your restaurant adheres to CDC or government guidelines regarding COVID-19? Patios were a popular option for dining out over the last few years, especially to those who were more hesitant about being in public. Make sure your space observes any recommended guidelines for patron and staff safety, such as:
- Thoroughly disinfecting all spaces and allow enough time between seating for proper disinfection.
- Where possible, provide space to allow guests to social distance from other groups. While some guests might not be as concerned as others, it’s important to make sure everyone feels safe and comfortable.
Creating and enhancing the space
Whether your patio is new or just needs sprucing up, take the time to curate your space. Create an enticing atmosphere guests want to be a part of! Bring elements of your indoor dining outside, carrying your restaurant’s ambiance onto the patio. Consider the signage, the furniture, the lights, and the art that will really pull your new space together.
Of course, make sure you implement necessary safety measures for your staff and guests to reduce risk of accidents such as slips and falls.
Technology provides exciting new opportunities for your business, whether in streamlining your customers’ experiences or helping attract new guests to your restaurant and patio.
What ways can technology help your business?
Social media and website updates
Social media has MAJOR power in consumer decisions. Search Engine Watch argues that social media has shortened the customer journey; it sometimes took weeks for consumers to make a purchasing decision, and through the power of social media, users move through the marketing funnel in a matter of minutes!
So what does that mean for you, your restaurant, and your patio? You have this incredible marketing tool at your fingertips! Invest in your restaurant’s social media. Show off your new patio on your Instagram page. Share daily specials or advertise events in your stories. Give potential diners a preview of what an experience at your restaurant is all about.
Social media is an inexpensive and incredibly effective tool to help target your future guests – to engage with your returning patrons and to attract new ones, too!
While the QR code has been around for over a decade, its popularity skyrocketed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It helped reduce contact from guest to guest and between guests and staff, making disinfecting processes smoother and limiting the spread of germs between people. With QR codes, diners can simply scan a code to open your menu, pay their checks, or give feedback on their experience in a review. Plus, you won’t have to print new menus to make changes, whether for quick updates or seasonal specials!
For more information on how your restaurant can use QR codes to benefit your business and customer experience, check out this story from CNBC.
Proper Insurance Coverage
And last but certainly not least: Communicate with your insurance agent regarding your patio plans! While a patio provides extra space and a fun, new setting for diners, it poses some risk, too. Ensure that you are covered and take necessary precautions to make your space safe.
Talk to your insurance agent about any additional steps you may need to take to prepare for patio season.
Learn more about Merchants’ restaurant and food service insurance options here.
While this list doesn’t include everything you might need to know about getting your patio ready, hopefully, it’s a good place to start. Consider these factors into your restaurant’s summer plans, and enjoy patio season!