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Al Fresco Dining!

Al fresco dining became an inevitable part of hospitality businesses over the past few years and many hospitality businesses embraced the opportunity to serve customers outside.

This Summer will hospitality businesses that previously didn't offer outside dining retreat to inside only, or will they develop their outside offering further? And will businesses who haven't already introduced outside dining now look at the opportunity to do so?

Despite the unpredictability of British weather, eating outside continues to be incredibly popular and has become much more widespread over the past few years. There are many reasons why outside dining could be a huge benefit to your business. For one, additional seating outside can significantly increase the amount of covers you can offer on busy days. Many diners may specifically look for outside dining on sunnier days to make the most of the weather and would actively avoid restaurants that are indoor only for this reason. Serving food outside is also a great way to advertise your restaurant to passer-by's who are choosing where to eat as the sights and aromas of the food may draw them in.

So, if you don't already offer an outdoor dining solution, where do you start? There is much to consider and it's a good idea to engage with experts in terms of planning, designing and delivering bespoke solutions for your restaurant. The first thing to establish is whether planning permissions might be needed to provide food and drink outside the main premises.

You also need to decide what the space outside will be used for and when it will be open:

  • Will it be a seasonal/ Summer offering, or will you extend it into the Autumn/ Winter months with the addition of outdoor heating and blankets?

  • Will you offer the same menu as inside or will you have a simpler menu for outside?

Some establishments offer a specific outdoor menu which they also cook outside, which is a great opportunity if you have the space and capability to do so. Think barbecue style in the Summer, which can be implemented when the weather is sunny but easily put away on rainier days. Outdoor pizza ovens are also a great opportunity for outdoor dining, adding theatre to the dining experience whilst also keeping the outdoor menu offering quite simple. Outdoor dining offerings can also lead to a greater opportunity with takeaway options.

The increase of outdoor dining last year led to an increase in placing orders using QR codes and even paying in this way at the point of ordering, rather than at the end of the meal. This can be an efficient way of handling outdoor dining as it is time-saving for your staff, meaning they can focus on the quality and speed of service.

Careful consideration must also be given to the choice of furniture you use, as it will need to be easily cleaned and potentially have the ability to be quickly stacked or folded away to make the area as versatile as possible. The UK's unpredictable weather means it's also a good idea to choose furniture that will last well outdoors. But don't forget to choose furniture and accessories which are inviting and comfortable to make your outdoor dining area a desirable place to spend time.

Vision Commercial Kitchens can offer design, supply and installation of catering facilities for both indoor and outdoor dining. Get in touch today...

0844 811 7210


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