How To Create Profitable Outdoor Spaces For Your Restaurant

For many restaurants and bars, outdoor space can be a blessing. Not only does it increase your footprint, but it also allows you to seat more diners or welcome more drinkers during busy hours. However, one mistake which a lot of restaurateurs make is not making the most of this space all year round. A recent report found that around 1 in 5 diners see outdoor seating as crucial, whereas 65% of diners would still choose to dine outside in cold weather if the space was nice. 


If you have an outdoor space which is popular in the summer months, but not so much in the winter, then it could be in need of a makeover and repurpose to make it fit for comfortable use, no matter the weather. If you are juggling indoor and outdoor dining, or are looking to create an outdoor space for your business for the first time, let’s take a look at some of the ways in which you can make your outdoor space more profitable. 


Host Events At Your Restaurant

Good food and entertainment are a match made in heaven and, if you can provide the two, then people will be sure to come and visit. You could look to partner with local brands to set up a collaborative menu or tasting event, or invite a local musician down to entertain guests whilst dining. You can consider putting together a set menu, designed specifically for the event, or offer something more casual and relaxed, such as canapes or miniatures, which allow guests to mingle whilst sampling your food. 


All of this can, of course, be hosted outdoors (weather permitting) so that guests can enjoy your outdoor space. The addition of things such as fairy lights and candles help to add that level of ambience, or if you want to encourage guests to stay for longer, add blankets or cushions to seats. 


Well-publicised events bring new customers to your space who are likely to revisit in the future if they have a good time, or spread the word of mouth to their friends and family. Social media is a free way to publicise any events you host at your restaurant, so be sure to share far and wide to increase guest engagement and numbers!


Define The Space

One of the first and most important things you should do when looking to reinvent your outdoor space is to make sure that it is defined in terms of what you want to achieve. This then helps you to plan the use of the space and means that any future plans can be more efficiently thought out. If you have a large patio space, then you could consider splitting it into different zones or sections, perhaps an area specifically for dining, with another area for drinks and lounging. 


You may not yet have a dedicated space to utilise outdoors, or perhaps it is in need of modernising. In this instance, in order to really get the most from your space, you may look to hire a landscaper or fit out company to bring your outdoor restaurant concepts to life. Although this requires an initial cost and investment, there is certainly value in having a well designed and thought out space that is suited to the personality of your restaurant. 


Make It Comfortable

You might have the most aesthetically pleasing space, but unfortunately, no one is going to use the space if it isn’t comfortable or welcoming. Once you’ve worked out how you’re going to define your outdoor restaurant space, the next step is to ensure that it is comfortable for guests. 


This means considering things such as outdoor furniture so that guests can dine comfortably, as well as elements which make the outdoor space usable in all weathers and seasons, like heaters and parasols and potentially artificial grass Melbourne so that you don’t get dead grass in the summer! For drinking and lounging spaces, this is where you can perhaps show your restaurant’s flair and personality with the addition of cosy fire pits and bean bags. 


With your outdoor space, ensuring that it can be used all seasons is really one of the best ways in which you can guarantee year-round profit. Think of the ways in which it can be changed from season to season with both a theme and usability. For example, a drinking and dining terrace in the summer or a magical winter wonderland during the festive season. From here, you can then change those little added comforts, such as plenty of parasols or shades in the summer to blankets and heaters in the winter months. 


Get Creative

If you have staple dishes on your restaurant menu, or popular drinks on your cocktail lists, consider getting creative with the addition of temporary menu items which you can use to entice diners and guests to your outdoor space. If you’ve got the space, you might look at adding things such as a “Summer Gin Garden” with an outdoor bar, custom gin drinks and complimentary nibbles. 


For the Christmas season, small plates such as mini pigs in blankets and filled Yorkshire puddings could pair well with mulled wines and whisky. You could also mark fun national days, such as National Bacon Day or National Potato Day, with the addition of one-off specials or fun add-ons. With these, you may be able to add an additional cost to these by selling them as exclusives or limited-time offers. 


Hire Out For Events

Depending on the functionality of your outdoor dining space, there is a possibility that you can hire the space for events. Parties, weddings and other celebrations always require a space and if you’ve got it, you might as well offer it for some additional revenue! If you find that your outdoor space is quieter during certain days or months, then you can offer discounts on the cost of hiring the space to entice guests. 


For wedding enquiries, you could look at putting together a package, with space hire and food and drink. For parties and other celebrations, buffet or set dining menus are a great way of showcasing your restaurant’s talents when it comes to food and offering something to suit all events and budgets. 


If you want to take event hire seriously, then this is a great way to boost your business profits and reach a whole new audience and client base. You can look at going to events and wedding fairs to showcase your venue, especially if there is something which sets you apart from others. 


You don’t always have to hire out for events – take a look and see if any other events are happening nearby and jump on those. Concerts, festivals, sporting events and local community events all bring people to the area, so offer discounted food with show tickets or do food specials for local events.