6 ways restaurants can plan for outdoor dining this spring

Posted on | Posted in Hospitality

The schedule for lockdown easing in hospitality begins on 12th April, when pubs, bars, and restaurants can serve people outdoors. Indoor hospitality and hotels are set to be opened on the 17th May, and indoor mixing of households is likely to be restricted until the middle of summer.

It remains to be seen whether these dates will be met or delayed. What’s clear is that the hospitality sector needs to prepare for outdoor dining to be a substantial part of its revenue in the coming months. But can restaurants plan for outdoor dining? Is it possible for every business?

How can restaurants plan for outdoor dining?

There are several ways pubs, bars, and restaurants can plan for outdoor dining in some capacity and aim to serve as many customers as possible this spring and summer. Whatever space you have for seating nearby, there’s an opportunity to make the most of it. See the ideas below:

1. Look for your nearest green space

Not every pub or restaurant is blessed with an outdoor area to call their own. But don’t let this stop you. Find the nearest green or seated area close to your venue and direct customers there. The pandemic has seen the UK make use of outdoor space like never before. After months of lockdown, the novelty of going out for food will be enough for people to enjoy the alfresco experience.


2. Takeaway drinks and boxes

Making outdoor dining easy encourages people to get involved. Think about the boxes and cups you want to serve food and drink in to make it practical and safe. If the box looks the part, people may even share it on social media. Make waste reduction and using biodegradable packaging a priority, as this will be on many customers’ minds as part of their buying choices.


3. Apply for a pavement license

You might not have terrace seating, but if you have a pavement or backstreet, you might be able to use it to seat customers. Restaurants can plan for outdoor dining by applying for a pavement license and getting permission from the council to seat customers outside their premises.

4. Create a sheltered area

Many restaurants and bars can use carparks, gardens, and yards for seating. The great British weather is the biggest obstacle to this. But creating shelter for diners outdoors encourages people to stick around, whatever the weather is doing. We might not be blessed with warm, sunny weather in the UK, but we certainly know how to brave the elements and make the most of time outside!


5. Make it comfortable and welcoming

Eating outdoors certainly isn’t the ideal situation, but we can make the best of it. Bars and restaurants can plan for outdoor dining by creating cosy, comfortable settings for customers to enjoy food and drinks. It could be benches and cushions or bespoke seating. Whatever your budget extends to, dress your space with plants and outdoor lighting and make it appealing.


6. Tell people about your spot

Once you’ve set up your outdoor dining area or found a suitable one nearby, advertise it. Share and tag pictures on social media and your Google MyBusiness page. When people are searching for outdoor dining spots, yours will crop up. The past year has seen businesses closing, opening, and reopening, and it’s difficult to keep track. Having an updated online presence is how to manage this.

Are you a bar or restaurant owner or manager looking to extend your space to seat more covers? Talk to us about what’s possible.