Overcoming Outdoor Dining Challenges for Increased Customer Comfort
Is there anything more luxurious or relaxing than outdoor restaurant dining? Customers certainly don’t seem to think so. Eating outside has become far more popular and expected in recent years as diners want to feel a cool breeze as they munch on appetizers or main courses. However, outdoor dining can be a pretty big challenge for commercial foodservice operations, depending on the location and climate. Not only is it much harder to control the climate outside, but unwanted guests (i.e., bugs) can ruin a meal faster than anything else.
Fortunately, there are solutions that can allow any restaurant to incorporate an outdoor dining experience, regardless of the circumstances.
The Rise of Al Fresco Dining: Exploring the Growing Trend in Commercial Outdoor Foodservice
Before 2020, many restaurants in the United States had exclusively indoor seating. During the pandemic, however, operators were forced to incorporate outdoor dining elements to help prevent the spread of the disease. Even now that the pandemic has waned, customers still prefer to eat outside.
According to recent data, up to 69 percent of diners like having an outdoor option, and up to 90 percent of operators said they would continue their outdoor seating arrangements. So, what started as a response to extenuating circumstances has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for restaurants.
Creating a Relaxing Ambiance
Having an outdoor seating area involves a lot more than just putting some picnic tables out with an umbrella. While operators had to scramble at first, now that outdoor dining is established, customers want more from the experience.
So, operators must learn how to make the outdoor dining patio more inviting and appealing. For example, adding some plants or greenery can enhance the atmosphere and make diners feel like they’re really out in nature. Similarly, speakers and accent lighting can turn a plain patio into a swanky, upscale dining area.
Overcoming Outdoor Dining Challenges for Customer Comfort
While a remodeled outdoor dining patio can look amazing, it’s not without some significant challenges. Overall, operators can control mostly everything inside, but when tables are moved outdoors, it’s trickier to maintain the same experience. Some unique scenarios can include:
Summers are hot, and winters are cold. While it’s easy to adjust the thermostat inside, operators must provide other equipment outdoors to ensure diners stay comfortable. For example, fans and misters can help guests beat the heat, while heaters can help them stay warm as temperatures drop.
Wind and Rain
Typically, a windy and rainy day would mean no outdoor dining. However, with some ingenuity and proper planning, a storm doesn’t have to force an operator to close the patio. For example, portable tents and canopies can keep guests dry and allow them to enjoy the wetter weather without getting soaked.
Bugs and Wildlife
Areas that get mosquitos have a much harder time making outdoor dining more attractive during the warmer months. Guests don’t want to have to swat away parasites as they’re eating. Some restaurants will have it harder than others, such as those next to ponds and lakes, where bugs breed and thrive. Fortunately, bug traps can mitigate this problem and ensure guests are not swarmed during lunch or dinner.
How Air Curtains Keep Bugs at Bay
Another main challenge of maintaining outdoor seating is that guests and employees have to move from indoors to outdoors regularly. Unfortunately, bugs and other pests can take advantage, meaning flies and mosquitos could wind up bothering interior diners.
Thankfully, air curtains can work marvels at keeping bugs outside where they belong, and bug traps can kill them on sight. Best of all, these curtains don’t need tons of energy, as just a light force of air is enough to keep insects at bay.
Stop by our showroom to find the right air curtains for your restaurant, hotel, or country club — and save today!