With the cold, dark nights creeping in, sitting in a beer garden might not sound too appealing. But the end of summer doesn’t have to mark the final days of outdoor hospitality. We’ve come up with easy ways to help restaurant and pub owners make better use of their outdoor space all year round.
Three Reasons to Keep Your Outdoor Space Open
With winter just around the corner, many businesses with outdoor space may have started preparing to ensure customers can stay seated comfortably outside when the cold weather hits. For others, the idea of keeping their outdoor space open seems like a foreign concept. Here are three reasons why you should keep your outdoor space open this winter:
1. More space = more customers
Don’t overlook your outdoor space. Instead, it should be seen as an extension of your venue. Outdoor space can help you cater for more customers when inside table bookings reach full capacity.
2. Tempt more cautious customers
While outdoor dining has been a lifeline for many venues during the COVID-19 pandemic, in recent months we’ve started to see a return to normality. However, keeping your outdoor space open could attract customers who are still cautious and would rather sit outside instead of a busy, enclosed indoor space.
3. Opportunity to create an outdoor experience
Winter brings the perfect opportunity to transform your exterior space into an outdoor experience - like a magical winter wonderland. Creating outdoor experiences that replicate or surpass the indoor experience can add value and excitement for customers.
How to prepare your outdoor space
Heating and decoration
With the right preparation and equipment, you can transform your outdoor space into a great place for guests to get together with family and friends, even on the coldest nights.
Heaters help keep your customers warm and snug, protecting them against the harsh winter chills. Patio heaters are a great way to warm up your outdoor space and can be hung on walls or placed on dining tables. Outdoor firepits are also a great option for those cosy winter evenings.
Aside from the cold, winter also introduces dark and early evenings. Decorating your outdoor space with warm white LED bulbs can help beat the winter darkness blues, creating an atmospheric tone for the evening.
Even with heating in place, your guests might still feel a little chilly. To ensure they have the most comfortable experience, cushions and blankets can also create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
Ready for rain
British weather is famously unpredictable. The outdoors might seem like a good idea, until raincloud form – then it might seem less inviting.
A patio roof provides protection against the rain. The permanent builds can be highly water repellent when constructed correctly. Temporary outdoor shades like umbrellas and gazeboes also offer a way to protect your outdoor space (and guests) from the rain.
They’re a less permanent solution than a patio roof. However, this means they can be easily be put up or taken down, depending on what the British weather throws your way.
Market your space
Once you’ve made the necessary changes to your outdoor space, it’s important to communicate these changes to your customers. Give them something to look forward to by hosting an opening night or a special event in the run up to Christmas and New Year.
Don’t forget to shout about your event on social media. You may even want to tease customers with a sneak preview of the venue to build up some anticipation before the big day.
Create a complementary menu
Why not create a menu that complements your new outdoor space? With the holidays approaching, now is the perfect time to incorporate seasonal specialties to the menu – such as mulled wine and spiced cider.
To elevate your outdoor experience even further, you could set up your own outdoor food stalls- serving hot drinks and street food. This option can totally transform your outdoor space and create an alfresco dining experience with a unique twist. You could look to join forces with a local food truck searching for a home during the colder months to offer your customers something truly special.
Efficient outdoor serving
If you’re serving food indoors, outdoors and taking online orders, it can be hard to keep tabs on everything. An all-in-one restaurant point-of-sale system can help you do just that. From managing orders to tracking reservations, a point-of-sale system can help keep your business running smoothly.
A contactless card reader can also improve serving efficiency. Secure, fast, and simple – a contactless card reader provides the flexibility to accept card payments from anywhere in your restaurant, including outside.
Convenient QR codes
If you’ve eaten at a restaurant during the COVID-19 pandemic, then you may be familiar with QR codes. QR code online ordering – Quick Response codes – have become very popular since the pandemic started.
So, how do they work?
When you visit a restaurant, you’ll usually be asked to scan a QR code with your smartphone.
The image based QR code opens an internet shortcut that gives you instant access the restaurant’s menu.
Using this link, customers can place an order and complete a purchase from their phone.
In light of the shift away from traditional table service, customers now seek more touch-free ways to complete their purchases. Square QR codes allow businesses to accept touch-free payments, so customers can order from the comfort of their table.
Give alfresco a go
Despite the unpredictable British weather, there’s no reason why alfresco dining can’t work in the UK – given you can create a warm and welcoming atmosphere for your guests.
The key is ensuring your outdoor space is well prepared, your guests are comfortable, and your venue has the right technology to keep things running smoothly.
Invest in an effective point-of-sale system, like Square’s all-in-one restaurant management tool, to help your business prepare for the busy winter months ahead.