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Those of us lucky enough to have outdoor space at our restaurants long for summer weather so that we can delight guests with refreshing open air meals and showcase our lovely exteriors.  Indeed, there are few dining settings more intimate, enjoyable and guaranteed to bring throngs of people to your eatery than an al fresco option. However , in order to make this ideal culinary setting a reality, there are a number of steps that should be taken to make your restaurant patio or deck into the perfect outdoor meal setting.

restaurant patio

 Those of us lucky enough to have outdoor space at our restaurants long for summer weather so that we can delight guests with refreshing open-air meals and showcase our establishment’s lovely exterior.

Indeed, there are few dining settings more intimate, enjoyable and guaranteed to bring throngs of people to your eatery than an al fresco option. However, in order to make this ideal culinary setting a reality, there are a number of steps that should be taken to make your restaurant patio or deck into the perfect outdoor meal setting.

Basic setup

First, you must provide adequate seating and dining space for your customers. Cater to different tastes by providing both formal seating and more relaxed options, such as bar seating or lounge chairs. Your outdoor dining space should be large enough to allow everyone to have enough personal space and elbow room. There’s nothing worse than feeling cramped when dining outside, so you may want to troubleshoot your space during a private event or soft opening. Aside from weatherproof, stackable table and chair sets, you will likely need a side buffet to help facilitate service and help you temporarily store plates, cutlery and other necessities when things get busy.

Adding low maintenance plants that bloom all summer will add to your guests’ enjoyment. Shade is also important, so you should either stock large canopies or install potted shade trees to promote both privacy and relief from hot summer rays. If summers in your area bring extreme heat, consider installing a misting device to provide waves of cool air for your customers. Misters do not get diners or furniture wet, but instead expel billions of microscopic water droplets which help cool the air temperature in the immediate area and make conditions more breathable for sensitive diners. However, if your restaurant is located in a colder region, you should maximize your patio or deck’s sun exposure while keeping shade considerations in mind.

If you live in an urban area, noise pollution may be an issue. To combat this possibility, install a freestanding fountain. Its soothing sounds will help provide a relaxing atmosphere and drown out background noise. An outdoor sound system is also a good investment, as it will allow you to draw from endless musical sources to create the perfect mood for your guests.

Pest prevention

Providing protection from annoying insects is a vital component of maintaining food safety and guest interest in your dining space. Insects can spread disease-causing bacteria whereas pest sightings can leave your guests feeling disgusted, cause you to fail a health inspection or even damage your restaurant’s reputation.

To prevent flying pests, be sure to use tightly sealed lids on your outdoor trash cans, line them with plastic bags and empty them regularly. Customers should not be able to see or smell them. Clear dirty plates immediately, use sodium vapor outdoor bulbs (flies are not attracted to them) and do not allow any standing water to accumulate. To repel crawling insects, remove crumbs and debris from your deck or patio by pressure washing the surface every evening. Grassy areas and mulch should be eliminated, as they are common pest nesting areas. Also be sure all doors are well sealed so pests cannot migrate from outside into your restaurant.

As part of your long term anti-pest plan, you should establish a relationship with a pest management professional to determine the need for any additional custom solutions. Also consider employing insect-repelling plants and other natural remedies to help keep the dining space bug free. These special plants can also double as an aesthetically-pleasing aspect of a small herb or vegetable garden that you can plant to both please the eye and provide a few unbeatably fresh culinary elements for your menu.

Cleaning essentials

Be sure to wash the floor and dust off tables and chairs every morning so diners can experience a clean and inviting setting. All glass and awnings should be wiped down daily to prevent unattractive dirt buildup. Entrance mats should be installed outside every door to help prevent dirt being tracked in from outside by your guests and staff. You will need to work with a vendor to arrange regular mat laundering to help maintain cleanliness and protect your building’s floors.

Consider hiring a handyman to regularly assist with certain basic tasks related to your patio or deck. For example, outdoor drains must be kept debris-free so that your patio will not flood as a result of rain. Outdoor lighting and exterior paint will require attention over time, and as such it’s a good idea to have a professional familiar with your restaurant grounds to help keep everything in tip top shape. Remember that little details can make a big impact on customer perception of their dining experience and your restaurant.

Finally, be sure that the handyman’s phone number is kept up to date along with other emergency contacts on a list accessible to your staff. Severe summer storms are common in some areas, so your employees should always know who they can contact during an emergency.

If you follow these simple preparation tips, your al fresco space will offer your customers something above and beyond simply a good meal; a truly special dining experience that they will want to enjoy all summer long in the company of family and friends.

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Vancouver, BC

V6A4K7

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