What is the most compelling case for accommodating outdoor diners? Data shows that the average patron will actually spend more money when eating outdoors. In a study of 439 diners, FSR Magazine and Tampa, FL research firm Study Hall Research found that nearly half (43%) of diners ages 25 to 34 shell out more cash on drinks from outdoor bars. Eating outside is also a popular option among vacationers; 82% of the survey respondents said that they are likely to eat outside while on vacation. While these numbers are extremely promising, full-service restaurants need to consider a few key factors to make the most of outdoor tables and outdoor seating:
Luxuries Attract Diners, But Not For The Reasons You Think
Merely setting a couple of tables outside won’t do. While having TVs, outdoor fireplaces, and outdoor fire pits did not significantly affect the number of total diners a restaurant can expect, one thing remains true: outdoor fire pits or patio heaters take the edge off the cold, and encourage patrons to eat outside earlier in spring and well into chilly fall months. And more filled seating and tables means more customers.
Comfort Should Be A Top Priority
Temperature isn’t the only thing that affects comfort and may deter patrons from eating outside. Some things are unavoidable when outside; bees, insects, birds, and other pests may disturb diners if you are not careful. Retractable screens and retractable screen doors are a convenient and flexible solution. Screens may be made out of copper, fabric mesh, fiberglass, or aluminum, and are generally installed with small staples, which are later concealed with decorative wooden battens. Retractable screens for porches can also be used to shade customers, so they sit comfortably out of the bright glare of the sun; some varieties also reduce cooling costs, keeping company utility bills low.
Outdoor tables are a wise investment for any full-service restaurant. With retractable screens or retractable screen doors and outdoor heating, restaurant owners can maximize patrons’ comfort and keep them outside — where they will pay more — more often.