Outdoor seating is an added bonus for any restaurant. Not only does it add to your restaurant’s customer capacity, but it also offers customers another seating option. You can choose to make your outdoor and indoor areas flow consistently with the same design style and restaurant furniture. Or you could create two complimentary yet different styles. Perhaps a warm intimate décor inside and a country garden or beach-style seating area outside. Although you have choices in your design there are a few basics that will guide you in creating the perfect outdoor patio seating area for your restaurant.
Choose Your Outdoor Furniture Colors
Colors fade when they are left in the sun for an extended period. The intense light from the sun will make red items fade, and yellow items turn white. Unless they have been specifically designed to withstand UV rays. It doesn’t help that the furniture will also be in the rain and wind. Ask your commercial furniture supplier about colors that will last, and materials that have been treated to survive the elements.
Make Your Outdoor Eating Year-Round
These days restaurants with outdoor seating are taking advantage of it year-round. You can do this by enclosing your outdoor space with removable screens, glass panels, or an awning. Once your space is enclosed you can add space heaters for the perfect winter patio. When the sunshine returns simply dismantle the temporary walls and you’re back to your original summer outdoor seating plan. Ideally, you should choose a transparent enclosure so that winter customers can also enjoy the surrounding views and still feel like they are sitting outdoors.
Be Prepared For Any Weather
You don’t want your outdoor area to only be functional in one season. And even if you have taken the precaution of installing a removable enclosure for the winter you still need to be prepared to rain and shine. So, you will need shade for when it is sunny, space heaters for when it is cold, fans for when it is dry and hot, and barriers, or screens for when it is windy. These days many restaurants in colder climates offer customers sitting outside a warm blanket to put over their legs.
Use Commercial-Grade Furniture
All restaurants should have commercial-grade furniture that can withstand heavy foot traffic. People of all shapes and sizes will be sitting in your restaurant chairs, and the furniture has to survive being constantly moved, used, and banged. And however much the indoor restaurant furniture needs to be commercial-grade, the outdoor furniture needs to be even stronger. When you are choosing your outdoor furniture make sure that it is built to last and survive the environmental elements. Your chairs and tables will need to be water-proof, UV-resistant, rust-resistant, and easy to maintain. Don’t opt for cheap furniture, as it will only cost you more in the long run. To make outdoor restaurant furniture even more practical consider getting chairs that can be stacked.
Outdoor Restaurant Lighting
You might be outside but you still need lighting. Consider the different seasons and winter when it gets dark early. Think about when you have special events, or consider that you might want to extend your open hours at some time in the future. However, don’t go and put one blinding projector light covering the area. Use lighting to add atmosphere and mood to the space. For example, tea lights floating in bowls of water, Chinese lanterns, tiki torches, or a string of fairy lights can turn a boring space into a romantic magical one – even in the middle of the day. Placing candles on each table, or positioning lights among the surrounding foliage also adds to the atmosphere. Clever lighting solutions are extremely effective and still budget-friendly.
Add Greenery to Your Restaurant’s Outdoor Seating Area
If you have an outdoor space make the most of it and introduce as much greenery to the space as possible. You can use planter boxes, flower boxes, or potted plants to demarcate the boundaries of your seating area. Don’t be minimalistic or conservative when it comes to adding greenery. People sitting outside want to see sunshine and nature, so give them lush foliage, cascading vines, and fragrant flowers. The only time when you should not place plants around your seating area is when there is an incredible view. Or when customers will want to do some people-watching.
Add Decorative Elements
Take the opportunity to add decorative elements to your outdoor seating area that perhaps would not suit your indoor area. For example lanterns, a small performance stage, or sculptures. Dress up your patio seating area with windchimes, garden gnomes, water features, a wheelbarrow, or buckets overflowing with flowers. It all depends on the style and theme of your restaurant.