Getting Ready for Patio Season

Is sitting on a patio with your friends and family not the epitome of a summer day well spent? I sure know many people, including myself, think it is. There is no season better than patio season!

Creating an all-encompassing plan for your patio is imperative for ensuring a successful patio season in your restaurant. Having a presentable patio will ensure that your staff is making money and that guests come back to bask in the sunshine with you.

What Did You Do Last Year?

Hindsight is a beautiful thing when looking for improvement. Look at what you did last year and note where things went wrong and where they went exceptionally right. Ask what were any guest complaints you received, were they repetitive? What were any operational problems or complications? Ask your employees for their input, especially those that were there for patio season last year, but don’t discount the opinions of those that weren’t. Take all of these things into consideration when planning for this years patio season.

Planning!

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.” If you’re not ready for the first day of patio season this old phrase will ring very true for you and your restaurant. When you’re planning out the organization of your patio it is best to consider that it as an entirely separate section of your restaurant. Procedures may even be different from the norm and consider scheduling staff designated to operate the patio each day.

Outdoor Stations

Design outdoor stations with everything that your servers will need. Staff shouldn’t have to keep heading indoors to retrieve things. Making their life easier will ensure happier staff and happier guests.

Floor Plan

Creating a floor plan is a necessary step for any restaurant. When planning for your patio you must consider having enough space for your servers and guests to move freely around your furniture. Keep in mind that people like to lounge on a patio and will take up more space and time than they do inside. Take into consideration your doors, food runners, bussers, and servers are often thwarted with doors as an obstacle. Finally, don’t forget to program this space into your POS system.

Opening and Closing Checklists

Your patio servers should know what they’re doing when opening and closing down their space. Make dedicated checklists for outdoors, like you have for your indoor restaurant, to keep everything organized and flowing uninterrupted from one shift into the next.

Outdoor Bar

If you have space, an outdoor bar dedicated to serving the patio is ideal. If you create a patio focused menu (discussed below) an outdoor bar will be a huge asset to your patio operation.

Outdoor Cooking

Guests love to watch restaurant staff work, and the attraction of an outdoor cooking station cannot be understated. Not to mention the draw that the smell of cooking food provides. Having an outdoor cooking station prevents you from putting extra stress on your kitchen indoors.

Furniture

Long before patio season gets into full swing you should analyze your furniture situation; mainly the condition is it in after being in storage for the winter, and whether you have enough. Extra chairs are always a good idea to accommodate a few extra guests, and if one of your chairs happens to fail on you. Also, do you have furniture for untimely weather changes? There’s nothing worse than a sudden rain shower causing all your guests to pile indoors. Have sun parasols that are large enough to cover your tables and guests. You might also want to consider the use of heaters for chilly summer evenings.

Rules and Regulations

Set policies from the start so your staff knows the procedure, consistency is vital. Is smoking allowed on your patio? Are you going to allow pets? There are local and statewide rules which you might have to comply to with. Make sure you research these before opening your patio.

Advertise it!

Patio space is a huge attraction during the summer months, but if they don’t know it’s there they won’t come. “Build it and they shall come” is all well and good, but if you want to make it popular you have to shout it from the rooftops. Do you have patio games, live music, or events? These are excellent tools for pulling in guests.

A patio is a wonderful thing to have in your bar or restaurant. Even those on high-streets grab a bit of the patio action by putting one or two sets of tables in front of their location. All of the above will have you properly prepared for patio season. Being well prepped will help you maximize the pleasures of the staff and the guests that occupy the space all summer long.

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Benjamin Michael Beddow

Benjamin Michael Beddow

Food and Beverage Professional

As a food and beverage professional for over ten years, Ben has spent most of his time behind the bar, giving him a broad and in-depth knowledge of all things drinkable and drink related. Now, as a traveling freelance writer exploring the gastronomy, drinks, and food service industry of the world, Ben has taken his knowledge and experiences to the world wide web to share with others. The love for the trade never dies and Ben can still be found running around restaurants and slinging drinks in ski resorts in the USA during the winter season.

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