Ten Steps for Creating Outdoor Dining Spaces
When creating an outdoor dining area, there are many design elements to consider and implement. One of the most popular outdoor restaurant design trends includes implementing green infrastructure, which can provide numerous benefits to your business and the planet.
An effective outdoor dining area can provide an inviting environment for guests while remaining fully functional for waiters and other employees. Our 10 steps for how to design outdoor dining spaces can help you get started on creating your outdoor restaurant:
1. Choose Your Space
One of the first steps is to consider possible locations for your outdoor dining space. Ideally, an outdoor seating area should be close to the indoor dining area and the kitchen. An appropriately placed outdoor seating area allows waiters and staff to easily cater to indoor and outdoor guests without much walking. Consider an outdoor area that can easily fit tables and chairs, comfortably accommodate guests and serve as a functional working area for staff.
2. Maximize Efficient Seating
When considering your outdoor restaurant design plan, aim to create an appealing yet functional space. It is essential to consider various layouts to determine which arrangement can maximize efficient seating that is comfortable and convenient for guests and staff. While some restaurant owners may want to place as many chairs and tables as possible, it’s wise to avoid sacrificing the utility and functionality of an outdoor dining area to add more seating.
3. Select Your Furniture
Furniture can complement your existing design and create a cohesive branding image for your outdoor space. Outdoor furniture comes in a variety of materials and designs. The best options will likely be weatherproof and easy for staff to stack or move when the restaurant needs to be cleaned or closed.
Durable furniture is often recommended as an outdoor restaurant seating idea because it is long-lasting and can hold up well to continual use and various types of inclement weather. The outdoor furniture you choose has the potential to elevate your design and set your outdoor dining area apart, making it a unique experience for your guests.
4. Prioritize Functionality
While overall aesthetics play an important role with outdoor restaurant design, functionality is key to building an effective and efficient dining experience for guests and staff. The design of your outdoor restaurant can prioritize workflow for employees to provide a positive experience for guests.
On average, 87% of customers who report a positive experience are more likely to make a purchase again in the future. When your outdoor restaurant is aesthetically appealing and also functional — with adequate space to walk between tables, protection from the sun and comfortable seating — your guests may be more likely to return to your restaurant.
5. Ensure Weather Protection
Outdoor seating areas are more functional when they can protect guests from various types of weather. You will also need to consider weather protection for when the restaurant is closed to prevent potential damage to the property. Many outdoor restaurants secure furniture after use or move the furniture indoors during inclement weather.
Even if there is no inclement weather in the forecast, it is best to provide weather protection for guests and create a place to accommodate guests if the weather turns. It is also important to secure any loose furniture that may move from the wind or become damaged by the weather.
6. Provide Ample Shade
In addition to protecting guests from the weather, it is essential to offer ample shade for a comfortable meal. While sunshine is a beautiful aspect of dining outdoors, shade helps provide protection from the heat to increase comfort while dining.
Many outdoor restaurants use premium shade structures when creating an outdoor restaurant design plan. An outdoor restaurant shade structure is a unique and aesthetically pleasing way to elevate your restaurant’s design and provide guests comfortable shade to enjoy. Shade structures also provide added architectural value to your restaurant.
7. Add Exterior Lighting
Exterior lighting is a great way to add to your outdoor restaurant’s decor and provide ambient lighting for your guests. In addition to standard lighting, you may want to consider decorative lighting, such as a neon sign or other aesthetic light sources or signage.
If your outdoor restaurant is open later for guests, exterior lighting is a necessary element to ensure guests can safely and comfortably enjoy their meal. Waiters and staff will need proper exterior lighting to work and walk to and from the outdoor dining area. Some popular exterior lighting options include string lights, fire pits, candles and lanterns.
8. Supply Outdoor Heating
Outdoor heating can be a valuable option to consider depending on your restaurant’s location and the season. Even if your restaurant is in a warmer area, outdoor heating can be a useful addition if your restaurant is open later in the evening. Outdoor heating can be stylish and provide warmth to dinner guests for a more comfortable dining experience.
In addition to providing comfort, outdoor heating can ensure you can use your outdoor restaurant space on a colder or cloudy day. When installing outdoor heating, follow all safety regulations and secure any loose wires to avoid a tripping hazard for guests and employees.
9. Enhance Ambiance
Outdoor decor and unique decorations can be an excellent way to craft the overall ambiance of your outdoor dining area. Stylish decor and small decorative elements can dramatically enhance a dining area’s design and create a memorable environment for your guests.
Landscaping is an important element of your restaurant to consider when determining how to enhance the overall appearance. Attractive landscaping and the placement of plants or greenery throughout the outdoor dining space can greatly complement your design.
10. Implement Pest Control
With the beauty of the outdoors comes the potential for bugs, birds and other pests that may be attracted to your outdoor dining space. It is vital to prevent pests from entering your restaurant space. Pests are an inevitable aspect of the outdoors, so it is best to have a plan to deal with them and reduce the likelihood they will bother guests.
Regularly cleaning your outdoor dining area can ensure there is little unattended food or crumbs to attract pests. Employees can clean any uneaten food or fallen debris as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Additionally, plan to add trash receptacles that are covered and maintained to prevent pests from entering and looking for scraps.
Incorporating Shade Structures Into Your Design
Shade structures have become an increasingly popular design element for outdoor restaurants to improve aesthetics and increase functionality. As the name implies, shade structures provide extra shade and offer guests a more comfortable outdoor dining experience. Shade structures come in a variety of designs, sizes and colors so you can find the shade structure that fits your restaurant’s design perfectly.