When the rain eventually stops: creating al fresco dining experiences for clientele

With rooftop bars and open-air dining areas springing up everywhere, providing good food and drink in an attractive al fresco setting can help increase footfall and sales. Here are some top tips if you’re looking to improve your clientele’s al fresco dining experience.

When the rain eventually stops

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Consider Your Audience

According to Mother & Baby, al fresco eating is popular with families, who often find the experience of eating outdoors with young children less stressful. Games, play equipment, buggy parks and understanding staff can make this a relaxing experience for all. Outdoor eating is also popular with pet owners, so provide well-filled water bowls for dogs. If you cater to smokers, make sure they are well segregated from other clientele. Finally, think about the ambience you want to create – clients far prefer well-spaced dining tables and chairs to picnic tables, and they appreciate lighting and plants that create a real ambience.

Don’t Let Your Standards Slip

Your al fresco area should be an intrinsic part of your brand, not an afterthought. Check outdoors during your morning set up, as nothing is more off-putting than bird mess on tables and chairs. Keep everything clean and attractive and make sure you have adequate staff numbers to ensure that empty plates, glasses and bottles are removed quickly, so they don’t become fly and wasp traps. If your al fresco area is particularly popular, consider employing a ‘sunshine shift’ to cope with extra outdoor capacity.

Maximise Your Space

Let your imagination run riot – your outdoor space can be much more than an outdoor dining room. Barbecues, open mic nights and mini music festivals all help to maximise your outdoor area and attract new customers

Thirst Quenching

Chilled soft drinks and mixed alcoholic drinks come into their own when the weather turns warmer, with customers even prepared to pay more for that chill factor. Consider using a post mix machine to rapidly deliver chilled soft drinks and mixers – you can order post mix machines through Empire UK or similar companies. A post mix machine offers an easy way to provide what the customer wants whilst maximising profits.

Look To The Future

It seems we can’t get enough of eating and drinking outside, so consider using blankets and outdoor heating to make your outdoor area profitable all year round.