Create the Ultimate Summer Haven: 6 Restaurant Patio Ideas for a Standout Outdoor Space

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Marlaina Lanese
April 25, 2023
A group of people are enjoying food outside on a restaurant patio.

Summer brings with it the promise of sunshine, blue skies, and balmy breezes - the perfect backdrop for al fresco dining. As the temperature rises, so does the enthusiasm for savoring a delicious meal outside. Outdoor dining is becoming increasingly popular, with 77% of consumers saying they prefer to dine outside when given the option. So, if you're a restaurant owner looking to capitalize on this trend, it's time to spruce up your outdoor space and create the ultimate summer haven. In this article, we'll discuss six restaurant patio ideas that can help you transform your outdoor space into a standout dining destination. But first, let's take a look at why outdoor dining is such a great investment for restaurant owners.

4 Benefits of Outdoor Dining for Restaurant Owners

You might be on the fence as to whether or not your restaurant really needs a patio. Although they are an additional expense to build and operate, they provide countless benefits for your business. Here are the top four benefits of offering your guests outdoor seating options.

  1. Increase your restaurant space: Opening up a patio will provide more seating space for customers. This will shorten or remove your waitlist, while allowing you to serve more customers at once. And more customers = more profits. 
  2. Gain a competitive advantage: According to a survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association in September 2021, 65% of restaurant operators said they offered on-premises outdoor dining in a space such as a patio, deck, or sidewalk. Don’t lose business to a competitor because they offer outdoor dining and you do not.
  3. Attract more customers: Outdoor dining is particularly appealing to Millennials, couples, and people on vacation who are looking for a unique dining experience. By offering an outdoor dining option, you can attract a broader range of customers who may not have considered your restaurant before.
  4. Increase revenue: According to  VSAG (Vucurevich Simons Advisory Group), it is estimated that restaurants with outdoor dining can increase revenue by up to 65%. By giving diners the ambiance they crave, you can create a memorable experience that will keep customers coming back for more. Outdoor dining can also attract more diverse guest demographics, leading to an increase in overall revenue.

6 Restaurant Patio Ideas for a Standout Outdoor Space

To enhance your dining experience and make your outdoor space truly stand out, here are six ways to elevate your restaurant’s patio.

1. Prioritize Comfort And Functionality

Comfort should be at the forefront when selecting furniture for a restaurant patio. Opt for chairs and tables made from durable materials, such as aluminum or wrought iron, that can withstand both weather conditions and heavy use. Cushions with weather-resistant fabrics will ensure guests remain comfortable throughout their dining experience. Keep in mind that outdoor furniture should be easy to clean and maintain, as well as stackable or foldable to facilitate storage during off-season or inclement weather.

Now that you know what to consider when selecting patio furniture, let's take a look at some seating options.

  1. Bistro Sets: These compact sets usually consist of a small round or square table with two chairs. They are perfect for smaller patios or creating intimate seating areas within larger spaces. Available in various materials such as wrought iron, aluminum, and wicker.
  1. Bar Sets: Typically featuring a tall table and barstools, these sets create a casual seating area perfect for socializing and enjoying drinks. Styles range from sleek, modern designs to rustic wooden options.
  1. Dining Sets: Designed for full dining experiences, these sets include a larger table and multiple chairs. Choose from various styles such as traditional, contemporary, and farmhouse to complement your restaurant's décor. Materials include aluminum, teak, resin wicker, and more.
  1. Lounge Seating: Offer your guests a comfortable spot to relax with cushioned lounge seating. Options include deep-seated sofas, loveseats, armchairs, chaise lounges, and modular sectionals in materials like all-weather wicker, aluminum, and teak. Select upholstery in weather-resistant fabrics that match your restaurant's color scheme.
  1. Hammocks and Swing Chairs: For a unique touch, consider adding a few hammocks or hanging swing chairs. These options can create a playful and inviting atmosphere, while offering comfortable spots for guests to relax.

The right furniture can elevate your outdoor dining experience and create a memorable atmosphere for your guests.

Guests are enjoying an outdoor restaurant patio.

2. Create An Inviting Atmosphere With Lighting

Proper lighting is essential for setting the mood on any restaurant patio. Strategically place ambient lighting around the perimeter, highlighting focal points such as plants, water features, or artwork. String lights and lanterns hanging overhead can create a warm, intimate atmosphere while ensuring guests feel safe and secure as they dine. As a bonus, consider incorporating energy-efficient LED lighting or solar-powered lights to keep energy costs down and show commitment to sustainability.

3. Establish Separate Zones on Your Patio

To provide the best outdoor dining experience, consider dividing the patio into separate zones based on guest needs. A lounge area with cushioned seating and low tables is ideal for casual conversations and pre-dinner cocktails. Meanwhile, a central dining area with ample table space caters to those enjoying a full meal. If space permits, a dedicated bar area can further elevate the experience for guests seeking drinks and socializing.

4. Invest in Shade and Weather Protection

Sun protection is a must-have feature for any restaurant patio. Umbrellas, pergolas, and retractable awnings offer versatile ways to shield guests from the sun's rays, while allowing for airflow. Additionally, think about how the patio will get used during unexpected weather events, like wind, rain, or even cooler temperatures. Consider investing in patio heaters, fire pits, or wind barriers to ensure year-round functionality and to extend the outdoor dining season.

A group of people are surrounding a fire on a restaurant patio.

Popular shade and weather protection include:

  • Market umbrellas
  • Cantilever umbrellas
  • Pergolas
  • Retractable awnings
  • Patio heaters
  • Fire pits
  • Wind barriers or screens

5. Enhance the Ambiance With Greenery and Decor

The patio should be an extension of the restaurant's brand and aesthetic. Integrate plants and flowers that reflect the colors and themes of the interior design, creating a seamless experience for guests. Use planters, vertical gardens, or trellises to add greenery, privacy, and visual interest to the outdoor space. Greenery can also be used strategically to divide the patio into different spaces or to guide guests to the washroom or exit. Additionally, display artwork, decorative elements, or even branded signage to enhance the restaurant’s identity and create a sense of place.

A restaurant patio with lots of plants and greenery.

6. Maximize Space And Optimize Layout

Smart patio design optimizes space without overcrowding. Be sure to allow enough room between tables for guests and staff to move comfortably. Incorporate different seating options such as booths or communal tables to accommodate various party sizes and preferences. Furthermore, consider the flow of traffic when placing serving stations or outdoor bars to ensure smooth operation during busy periods.

Final Thoughts on Restaurant Patio Design

A well-designed restaurant patio combines comfort, style, and functionality to create an enticing and memorable dining experience. By implementing these patio ideas, any restaurant can transform its outdoor space into a summer hotspot that keeps guests coming back for more. To elevate your patio invest in durable furniture, create an inviting ambiance with lighting and greenery, establish separate zones, and offer ample protection from the elements. This will ensure your guests have a memorable and pleasurable experience, encouraging them to visits all summer long. Cheers to a patio season full of satisfied customers and increased profits!

Table of content

April 2023


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