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How can restaurants plan for outdoor dining?


All restaurants and other catering establishments can benefit from having an outdoor dining area, you can create a unique selling point of an alfresco dining area, and increase your restaurant’s capacity to generate further revenue.

There are many ways restaurants, hotels, bars and pubs can plan for outdoor dining to delight and impress your customers. Below are some ways how you can create and prepare your outdoor dining areas this year.


Apply for a pavement licence

Before you start creating a comforting outdoor dining area, you’ll have to apply for a pavement licence if you want to offer outdoor dining in an area that is owned by the council. The pavement licence is a way to get permission from your local council to be able to seat your customers outside your premises.

It sounds complicated but don’t worry, due to the pandemic the process has been made more efficient and cheaper. The pavement licence fees differ depending on the area you’re in, but it’s usually a maximum of £100.

When you apply for the pavement licence, you are asked to state exactly where you would like to place your restaurant furniture like your restaurant tables and chairs. As expected, you will have to make sure you follow social distancing guidelines and that your outdoor dining area does not block the paths of the public. 

If you are like most restaurants and planning to offer alcohol outside, you will need to apply for a separate licence to serve alcohol. Once you receive these licences, you can start start creating your alfresco dining area.

Outdoor restaurant dining area with tables and chairs on a pavement outside the restaurant with a parasol over the area


Create a shelter for your outdoor area

For your outdoor dining area, you can use your gardens, yards, car parks, closed roads and pavements but one thing to bear in mind, is that fast changing great British weather. The uncertainty of the weather means you’ll likely need a shelter for your outdoor dining area such as canopies or awnings – anything to prevent the rain from coming down on your customers and making them leave. 

To make your guests even more comfortable particularly in the colder months, you can install infrared heaters to keep them toasty and allow them to enjoy your delicious food and drinks outdoors.

Beautifully decorated outdoor restaurant dining area underneath an awning shelter


Make your outdoor restaurant area welcoming

Outdoor areas can be made to be as welcoming and cosy as the indoor area of your restaurant. You don’t want to appear like you’ve just put a few tables and chairs outside, you want to make an effort to create a comfortable setting for your guests. 

Decorate your outdoor restaurant tables, chairs and other outdoor restaurant furniture, and why not use benches and cushions to make the outdoor seating comfortable. You can also decorate the outdoor dining space with plants, outdoor lighting and other restaurant decorations.

Make sure you don’t forget to have the restaurant dining essentials in your outdoor area such as restaurant napkins and restaurant crockery.

However you choose to decorate your outdoor dining area, remember to try to match the area with your brand and your indoor restaurant area. Consistency is usually key with decoration, and that applies to your outdoor area too.

Welcoming and cosy restaurant outdoor dining area at sunset


Market your outdoor dining area

After you’ve created your beautiful outdoor dining area, you need to make sure people know about it so now comes the marketing part. The best way to advertise your restaurant’s outdoor seating area is through social media. Regularly post pictures of your new outdoor area on all of your social media platforms.

Don’t forget to also update your Google My Business page so that when users are searching for outdoor restaurants in your area, your restaurant is listed with an outdoor dining area.

If you further want to advertise your restaurant, you can do pay per click campaigns on Google and social media, where you advertise your restaurant’s outdoor dining area to potential customers. This will cost but it’s a great way to gain you new customers.

Outdoor restaurant dining area with wooden tables and white chairs on a terrace


Start taking online bookings

Due to the pandemic, online booking has become the norm so it’s important to stay with the trend and offer online bookings for your indoor and outdoor restaurant area. 

There are many software you can use to be able to do online bookings, and you should also allow guests to book online on your website and through Google. Online bookings can be a good indication of how busy you might be that evening.

Outdoor restaurant dining area on a pavement in between two buildings


YesGroup have offered a few outdoor dining area ideas to help your restaurant plan for outdoor dining, which has become particularly important because of the Covid pandemic. However you decide to create your outdoor dining area, having a plan will save you both time and money.

To help create your beautiful outdoor dining area, why not have a browse of some high quality: