Is 2018 the year you finally complete your plan to open a restaurant patio? With outdoor dining growing in popularity year after year, expanding your restaurant offerings to a patio or rooftop is a smart choice. However, as dreamy and exciting as a patio opening may seem, there are a lot of logistics to take care of before you can serve your first outdoor guest. The hospitality team here at eTouchMenu has a few tips to help you get closer to opening your restaurant patio.
1. Plan the menu. While some operators choose to offer the same menu inside as they do outside on a patio, several choose to offer special patio or rooftop menus. One way to simplify this process is by incorporating eTouchMenu digital menu devices into your operation. With eTouchMenu, you can easily create and instantly modify your menu items. Whether you want to create a seasonal menu selection or offer patio specials, you have the freedom and flexibility to do so quickly and efficiently with eTouchMenu.
2. Know the law. Every state and most cities will have specific laws and permits required for operating outdoor restaurants or bars. Do your research and consult local officials to ensure you have all your boxes checked.
3. Map out your space. Depending on the location of your restaurant, you will have certain restrictions on where you can add your patio. Once you have all your permits and official limits in place, you can plan out the space. Take careful consideration of your staff and your current guest capacity. How many more tables can you realistically add? Are you able to hire additional staff for patio season? It will be important to consider the flow of your restaurant and patio as well, to ensure your staff and guests can easily and comfortably move around.
4. Set up furniture and lighting. Finding affordable, durable, and attractive outdoor furniture is harder than it seems. You will not want to use indoor tables or chairs on your restaurant patio, but instead find specially crafted items that will withstand use and time. As you search, consider the tone of your restaurant and attempt to keep the style similar, if possible. Unique lighting such as lanterns, candles, or string lights can help set the tone. While your patio space can be more casual, you still want to maintain your restaurant’s brand and image.
5. Be prepared for the elements. Whether you’re a seasoned restaurateur or you just opened your first operation, outdoor elements and weather events can cause stress and frustration. When planning for your restaurant patio opening, learn from your regional peers about what you can expect in a typical season. Bugs and humidity are common factors, but it’s also important to consider rain, hail, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and other regional factors.
6. Get the word out. Once you have an open date set, spread the word! You can use your eTouchMenu devices to inform your regular restaurant guests, as well as encourage your servers and hosts to share the news. Other standard advertising methods are always a good idea, including social media. You’ll want to build up some excitement for your patio opening!
Making preparations for a restaurant patio opening can be arduous. However, when you plan everything out and take cues from your peers and competitors in your region, you’re bound to have a successful opening. And whether you make the plunge this year or next on your patio, you’ll want to invest in eTouchMenu devices for your restaurant. Beautiful image displays, reorder and pay-at-the-table functionality prove to be highly effective for increasing revenue and improving the guest experience. Contact us for a free demo today!