Five Ways to Enhance the Outdoor Dining Experience
Outdoor dining is by no means a new experience. All types of eateries have been refining the experience for years. In New Jersey, no one in the restaurant business can afford to simply wait for indoor dining to return. Instead, they must consider new ways to enhance the outdoor dining experience for their customers and focus on the following:
A safe atmosphere is your priority. Social distancing and sanitizing are under your control. While enforcing mask-wearing has proven tricky in isolated incidents, it should be no problem, as patrons ultimately want a pleasant experience.
That said, lighting is everything in the evening. At the very least, the space must be well-lit. For a relaxing atmosphere, soft lighting is the way to go. If you want more of a party/nightclub vibe, then go with LED string lights or lamp posts.
First impressions these days are based on seating. Brunch and lunch crowds will expect plenty of shade, on top of adequate distance between tables. Any furniture you choose will still have to withstand the weather. Greenery and shrubbery can be used to separate seating, as well as improve the atmosphere. The rest comes down to creativity, as competitors will certainly be thinking of ways to entice customers and make them feel comfortable.
Unfortunately, until indoor dining returns, it is more important than ever to make accommodations for the weather. Umbrellas offer shade. Awnings block the rain. In colder weather, you may need to invest in outdoor heaters. Metal tables and chairs may need to be covered or replaced with furniture that is warmer to the touch. No matter what, you will need to pay close attention to weather patterns
Music serves multiple purposes. Live music can help attract passing customers and increase revenue on slower nights. At the very least, there is always piped in music loud enough to distract diners in noisy areas, but not so loud they cannot hear themselves speak.
Paper menus are the way to go. There is no need to wipe them down, and they are disposed of immediately after use. Some restaurants are taking advantage of tableside ordering technology, while others are using similar technology to receive payment. As for menu items, pay close attention to what is appropriate for the environment. Things that require a lot of napkins, for example, will lead to a lot of litter to pick up when it is windy. Other dishes may not stand up to heat exposure.
Many restaurant owners are committing to outdoor dining as their primary source of income, along with curbside pickup and delivery. Ideas such as these, and more, need to keep coming, if any type of revenue is to be expected.
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