Does your restaurant have a profitable patio service? Of the many impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the restaurant industry perhaps one of the most noticeable has been the surge in the popularity of outdoor dining.
Of course, this was initially driven largely by the COVID-19 capacity restrictions on indoor dining imposed by many states.
Reduced to 25% of their usual covers, outlets had no choice but to try and make the best possible use of their outside spaces – however unappealing they might at first have seemed.
Fortunately, today’s restaurant technology now provides a variety of ways to create a warm and welcoming ambiance in even the most unpromising areas.
Moreover, now that diners have got accustomed to the patio dining experience, industry studies show that they like it and want to keep it.
Businesses that want to survive and prosper in the post-COVID world should therefore consider investing in at least a few of the following technologies to enhance their patio dining experience.
Perhaps not strictly a restaurant technology, but a suitably sized pergola can not only provide essential protection from the elements, it can also be a great decorative opportunity.
Bedecked with colored LED lights, climbing roses or other vines, pergolas can be an immediately attractive and welcoming environment in which to dine.
That said, climatic considerations are obviously an essential consideration in providing customer comfort. So it’s essential to have an effective form of outdoor heating immediately available.
Fortunately, a wide range of cost-effective and unobtrusive gas or electric heaters is now available.
For the warmer months, you might also want to invest in an outdoor air-conditioning unit – more accurately known as an “evaporative air cooler”.
These use a process of water evaporation to generate a cool and refreshing breeze – ideal for those hot, humid, summer days and nights.
While a pergola is a semi-permanent structure, there is a supplement and alternative in the form of awnings and screens that can also provide protection against wind, rain and even biting insects.
And the great thing is that these structures can now be controlled automatically, at the touch of a button on a handheld device. No more will your staff have to waste valuable serving time in rushing to manually hoist an awning the moment a pop-up shower strikes.
Believe it or not, you can also now program awnings to automatically extend and retract at different times of the day, providing shade when the sun is at its highest and a captivating view of the night sky after dark.
Naturally, it’s physical comfort that is most important to the customer experience of patio designing. But they will expect that as a minimum.
To provide a really great experience you need to go a step further.
And the creative use of colored up-lighters and string lights can really help create a great ambience.
Use different colors according to the time of day and the mood you want to create and your customers will enjoy a much-enhanced dining experience.
A wide range of mains, battery, and solar- powered options is available. And it’s a simple matter to experiment until you find exactly the right combination for your brand.
The key takeaway is that the trend towards year-round outdoor dining is here to stay. And the good news is that almost every restaurant can have profitable patio service by making creative use of some or all of these now readily available technologies.