During the warmer months, pubs, restaurants and cafes with an outside space can take advantage of the nicer weather and provide al fresco dining for their customers. A great way to increase footfall and sales, al fresco dining and drinking is enjoyed by many people in the UK and can provide the opportunity for extra covers.
Outdoor dining can be enjoyed at any time, however August can often be extra popular as the pollen count is not as high as June and the weather is slightly more predictable than July, which can often be a mix of extreme heat and heavy showers. With the long summer break from the end of July and through August, many families will be enjoying the time-off together, often resulting in spending more money on outdoor leisure activities that they may not be able to do in other school holidays, such as outdoor dining.
There are many ways that you can make the most of your outdoor dining areas, from adapting your menus to adding outdoor entertainment.
- Feature foods that are ideal for outside dining; cold foods can be more popular when the weather is hot, and meals containing fresh ingredients that are grown on site are even more desirable.
- Many diners will dine outside in a group, so may often want to choose food items that they can share, such as snacking platters.
- You can make your tables look inviting by adding a centrepiece. Some flowers or a simple plant will blend well with the surrounding environment and add a splash of colour to the table.
- Think about your table linen and napkins. Customers like to feel like they are enjoying their meal with all the luxuries inside the restaurant, but whilst still enjoying the summer breeze.
- Could your outdoor seating benefit from seating pads to ensure your customers are comfortable when sat outdoors?
- If you are catering for a much larger crowd than usual, it can be a good idea to order disposable plates and cutlery. Why not get some disposable tumblers too, so there is less chance of glass breakages outdoors.
- Decide if you are going to run any special events. Popular ideas include beer festivals, open mic nights and a BBQ or hog roast.
- Often it can be families who choose to sit outdoors, so think about what entertainment is available for children.
- Decide whether you are going to make your outdoor dining experience more theatrical. Ice cream sundaes, fruity ice cubes and cocktails with all the trimmings are particularly popular.
- If you are allowing pets in your outdoor space, remember to provide water bowls and refill them regularly.
- Make sure your outdoor service is no slower than indoors. Consider hiring ‘sunshine staff’ that are on call during days with good weather.
- Don’t forget your outdoor customers.
- Keep tables clear and ensure there are no trip hazards.
- When dining outdoors, tables can often get messier than indoors. Wind can blow items over and excited children can make spillages. Don’t forget to clean tables between customers, we recommend Multi Purpose Cleaner from our exclusive brand Cleanline, and also to do a deep clean at the end of the day to ensure that your outdoor area will not attract pests.
Outdoor dining does not have to be a summer only event, by adding outdoor heaters and providing blankets, drinks and meals outdoors could become the reason your customers choose to visit your establishment over your competitors.