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    Adding Outdoor Restaurant Seating? Here Are 9 Tips That Will Help

    Written by Joel Strulovitch

    In most climates, outdoor restaurant seating is an appreciated addition to your restaurant's amenities. Guests appreciate it, and the sight of people eating a good meal outdoors can attract walk-ins. Well-organized restaurant seating can also dramatically increase the number of tables you have available and create an oasis for your guests. In fact, a deck or patio can increase revenue by up to 30 percent. A well-designed patio will easily pay for itself, and it’s much better than crowding more tables into your dining area.

    What Do You Need For Successful Outdoor Restaurant Seating?

    The most important thing you need is the right equipment. Outdoor seating needs to be designed to resist the elements. Most outdoor tables and chairs are metal, but compressed wood tabletops are also perfectly weatherproof.

    You also want some kind of awning or cover over your outdoor restaurant seating. This will be useful if it starts raining in the middle of somebody's meal, and it can protect patrons from the sun. The local climate and weather patterns will determine what you need and how much of the year you can use the patio. You need to make sure that you can cover furniture and leave it out for the winter, rather than having to bring it into an expensive storage space. Stackable chairs help when it comes to making a patio space more flexible.

    9 Tips For Adding Outdoor Restaurant Seating

    Friends sitting outside a restaurant to enjoy their meal

    Here are some tips for properly designing a patio and adding extra seating that will increase revenue and guest satisfaction:

    1. Match Outdoor Restaurant Seating to Indoor Restaurant Seating

    Your patio should feel like a natural extension of your dining room. If your dining room is generally in darker colors, bring those colors outside as well. A huge contrast will make it seem as if you have two different restaurants, resulting in an incoherent look. That can make guests question your professionalism and whether things are equally chaotic in the kitchen.

    However, a bit of a different flair to the patio is also desirable. Consider using slightly different accessories. Obviously, a fine dining establishment is going to need a different atmosphere than a fast-casual restaurant. Bistro chairs tend to be a different design from those meant for longer sit-down meals. The dining experience on the patio should complement that in the dining room.

    2. Tie Your Furnishings to Your Surroundings

    Your patio also needs to complement its surroundings. If you are extending out towards a beach, for example, consider beach-style furniture for people getting drinks. In a historic square, you need to match your building.

    If your patio is next to another restaurant's outdoor dining space, choose colors different enough that patrons can easily see the line where one patio ends and the other begins, including from a distance. Add your logo to the patio umbrellas to make your space very clear and to encourage passers-by to remember you.

    3. Don't Forget Plants

    Outside seating areas give you the freedom to use whatever plants and flowers you choose to highlight your patio. If you are focused on fresh food, consider herb planters that are harvested for the kitchen. Guests who care about fresh and local farming will love to see your staff harvest basil or rosemary from right next to their table.

    In fact, some restaurants are going as far as to have garden seating in their vegetable garden, adding raised beds to grow lettuce, tomatoes, pepper, and more. You can also add flowers to give the right accent of color. For moving accents, if the climate allows, hummingbird feeders can be a great touch. 

    4. Embrace the Night

    While your patio or garden should be well lit for patrons to read the menus without a flashlight, make use of the atmosphere of being outside at night. Candles on tables make for a romantic feel, as does fancy lighting. Test your lighting to make sure it hits the right balance of conveying mood and still letting people see their food.

    5. Light a Fire

    A firepit can help you use your patio further into the autumn. It can also create an awesome atmosphere that encourages guests to linger – and buy more drinks. Lanterns or torches can have a similar effect in a smaller space. There's nothing quite like a bit of fire to light up the night!

    6. Water Helps, Too

    Another alternative is to go for a water feature. For harborside restaurants, this might be overkill. But for others, consider a fountain in the center of your space or as a "wall of water" on one side. A small reflecting pool is awesome if you have the space.

    You can also combine fire and water with floating tea lights on the tables or similar displays. If your building is on a waterfront, position torches or lanterns so that they reflect on the surrounding water.

    7. Tweak the Menu

    For some restaurants, the same menu might be needed for consistency. Tweaking the patio menu slightly can be helpful, though. Switch out complex tableside service, offer lighter snacks, and serve some simple cocktails. Patios tend to encourage people to linger, so focus on drinks and desserts. A different wine list is generally not necessary. But when the weather is hot, you should ensure your wait staff remembers to recommend cooling beverages, such as mojitos or sangria drinks.

    8. Provide Special Service

    Make sure your outdoor restaurant seating has the service it needs. This does mean having designated staff for the patio. You may also need an extra person to take drinks out, especially if your normal setup encourages people to go to the bar for drinks.

    Never use the patio as a place to push less experienced servers. Guests will notice and be put off by it. Also, watch the service on busy days. If the weather is particularly good, assign more staff to the patio.

    9. Check Your Permits

    Make sure that you have all of the permits you need and are up to code. For example, there may be rules about how far across the sidewalk you can extend sidewalk seating. (Even if there aren't any rules, make sure that somebody with a powered scooter or double stroller can easily get past). In general, any seating outside your establishment is limited to a designated area. For rooftop patios, you may have an occupancy limit designed to ensure safe evacuation in the event of an emergency.

    The right outdoor restaurant seating can improve your revenue and attract and retain customers. Make sure that your patio area complements both your dining room and its surroundings. Also, prioritize providing high-quality service in good surroundings, regardless of whether you are offering casual dining or an elegant dining experience. The impact on your restaurant's bottom line is well worth the effort.

    About Moda Seating

    Moda Seating is the pioneer of providing commercial seating online. Since 2008, Joel Strulovitch, the company’s founder, has been building upon his family’s tradition of providing quality commercial seating at affordable prices. Moda Seating has helped thousands of people achieve their dreams to open restaurants, hotels, event centers, and many other types of businesses where the patron’s experience is influenced by their physical environment.

    If you’re in the process of opening a restaurant or other type of venue where the experience of your customers will be influenced by the environment you provide, then rely on Moda Seating. No other commercial furniture wholesaler has been helping merchants online longer than we have. To help you get started, please download our free Floor Planning Guide. And don’t hesitate to reach out to us for assistance. We’re happy to help!

    Free Floor Planning Guide from Moda Seating

    Tags: restaurant floor planning, restaurant seating, restaurant tables, outdoor furniture, outdoor seating