Ways to Improve Your Restaurant Outdoor Bar


| Jan 26, 2021

A beautiful outdoor dining area and bar can be the defining feature of a restaurant. Especially during the warmer months, an outdoor bar and patio can be the deciding factor when diners choose a restaurant. And with the right design and furniture, an outdoor dining area can attract customers all year long.

To help enhance your customers’ experience, we’ll give you tips for designing your outdoor dining space and choosing your outdoor furniture along with how to design outdoor restaurant furniture layouts to comply with COVID-19 safety regulations. Keep reading to learn how to build an outdoor patio for your restaurant to keep customers coming back again and again.

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How to Design an Outdoor Dining Space

Before you begin buying furniture to fill your outdoor dining area, it is important to have a specific plan and layout for the space. You will need to think through several details to determine what your outdoor dining space will look like and what accommodations it will offer. While your outdoor dining area could be used strictly for seating and dining, it could also include additional perks like live entertainment.

By getting creative with your patio design details, you can create a lively area for hosting local bands and open mic nights or a cozy lounge space full of fire pits and couches. These elements will shape the atmosphere of your outdoor restaurant space and influence how inviting or interactive sitting there feels.

Because different outdoor dining area setups will appeal to different types of people, figure out which demographics you want to appeal to most before solidifying your patio plans. For example, incorporating bar service will make the space better suited for older guests while other components like kid-sized tables will make the area more family-friendly.

Although including certain elements in your outdoor dining area design will require you to sacrifice some space for seating, a smaller seating section can help create a more memorable guest experience and some added privacy. Making your patio seating more limited can increase demand by giving the space an air of exclusivity and intrigue.

While it is exciting to start designing your dream patio space, make sure you read up on any local, state, and federal regulations for outdoor dining at restaurants or bars in your area before you get carried away. Permits and guidelines often vary by county or state, so get in touch with your local township to determine what kinds of permits you will need before you can begin serving guests outdoors.

Be sure to get answers to questions like the following before committing to any patio plans:

  • What are the noise ordinances for your restaurant’s location?
  • What extra permits do you need to obtain before adding electrical and plumbing to your outdoor dining area?
  • Is your restaurant permitted to serve alcohol or offer a bring-your-own option?
  • Can you make your patio dog-friendly?
  • Can you allow guests to smoke?

Once you’ve established what is allowed and what is not for your outdoor dining space, you can start planning the specifics of your patio. The first detail you need to decide is location, which will determine how much space you have to work with. Choosing the right spot to place your patio will set the tone for your outdoor dining area by giving you the chance to design a space around your brand.

Ensure you choose an area offering enough space for your guests to fit comfortably and move around with ease between the tables and chairs. While you should do your best to optimize the number of people your outdoor dining area can seat, more isn’t always better and doesn’t guarantee more revenue. Before adding more seating to your patio, make sure there will be enough space for you to maneuver through the area, especially during a dinner rush.

Once you’ve settled on a space for your outdoor dining area, you can start working through these five essential patio design steps:

1. Selecting Outdoor Furniture

The right commercial outdoor furniture can create a unique dining environment to set your patio apart from the competition. Choose outdoor furniture to fit the theme and concept of your restaurant as well as its overall brand. In addition to looking good, your outdoor furniture will need to be comfortable and practical.

Along with the seating, you will need to make other decor decisions regarding your outdoor dining area. Here are some of the main factors to consider when selecting outdoor pieces for your restaurant:

  • What sort of dividers, fences, or planters you can use to make your patio feel more secluded and private?
  • How can you attract customers from the street with visible decors like canopies, curtains, and vivid flowers?
  • What signage does your outdoor dining area need to make it more noticeable and appealing?
  • Is the ground level, or do you need furniture to help compensate for slight variations?
  • Do you have a dry and secure place to store certain outdoor furniture pieces and cushions overnight or during rain?

2. Lighting Up the Space

To keep your dinner customers from eating in the dark, you will need to provide adequate lighting for your patio space. By being intentional about your lighting choice, you can enhance the atmosphere of your outdoor dining area. From classy string lights and candles to theme-oriented torches or paper lanterns, the lights you select can help illuminate your patio while setting the mood.

3. Providing Weather Protection

Designing a patio space with the appropriate weather protection will allow you to offer outdoor seating for more months of the year. While large umbrellas, shelters, and awnings will provide enough shade to keep your guests comfortable in the summer heat, using patio heaters during colder months will extend your restaurant’s outdoor dining season. Including fans near your patio will also add to airflow and guest comfort.

No matter where your restaurant is located, your patio should be prepared for inclement weather. Make sure to wipe all outdoor furniture thoroughly after a rainstorm. In the event of more severe weather, have an evacuation plan in place.

4. Beautifying the Patio Area

Along with chic commercial outdoor furniture, you can dress up your patio area with other decorative elements. Incorporating some brightly colored flowers, miniature trees, lush foliage, and other greenery can contribute to the appearance of your outdoor dining area. Adding speakers around your outdoor dining area to play soft jazz or classical music can also help enhance the ambiance.

5. Adding the Finishing Touches

Going above and beyond when planning your outdoor dining space will make it stand out from other restaurants. Take your patio a step further by adding personal touches to coincide with your restaurant’s concept and elevate your customers’ dining experience. Details like a portable outdoor bar, a beer garden, or even yard games can keep customers coming back to your patio time and time again.

Choosing the Right Outdoor Furniture

Now that you know the importance of selecting good outdoor furniture, let’s talk about how to know which pieces are right for your restaurant. Although it may seem more cost-effective to use residential patio furniture or indoor restaurant furniture for your outdoor dining area, it’s crucial you use outdoor furniture made from high-quality materials. To save money in the long run, look for patio furniture constructed specifically for commercial use.

Reliable commercial outdoor furniture will be able to withstand the wear and tear of everyday use as well as harsher weather. Regardless of whether your restaurant’s patio furniture will be under an awning or a roof, it will be exposed to the outdoor elements. Look for commercial outdoor furniture that is weatherproof, low-maintenance, convenient to store, and easy to clean.

Here is a breakdown of the main outdoor furniture materials you can choose from:

  • Wood: For a considerably weather-resistant, light, and natural material, wood is a great choice for creating a cozy dining environment.
  • Plastic: If you want a wide variety of style choices, plastic is a long-lasting, durable material available in countless designs, colors, shapes, and sizes.
  • Metal: Whether powder-coated aluminum or steel, metal can be formed into nearly any patio furniture design and can last a lifetime when cared for properly.

In addition to being weather-resistant and durable, you want your commercial outdoor furniture to fit in well with your restaurant’s ambiance. For example, wooden picnic tables might perfectly match a restaurant’s rustic vibe, while sleek high-top tables are better suited for a more sophisticated atmosphere. Higher-end restaurants can also make their patio furniture classier by fashioning certain fixtures with stylish covers.

Try to strike a balance between the look of your outdoor dining furniture and the comfort it offers diners. Here are a few of the main considerations to take into account when choosing patio pieces:

  • High-top tables: Taller outdoor dining tables and chairs can literally and stylistically elevate the dining experience for your guests.
  • Round tables: Circular tables will give your guests a better view of each other and make conversation more natural.
  • Smaller tables: Use smaller tables for two to create a more romantic atmosphere similar to a sidewalk cafe.
  • Community tables: To maximize your seating capacity and appeal to larger families, use longer community tables to fit more chairs around them.
  • Sectional furniture: Sectional patio furniture, such as cushioned seats with pillows and love seats, will cultivate a comfortable, cozy dining environment for guests to enjoy.

For outdoor dining spaces with a bar, there are a few extra details to consider:

  • Bar stools: You will need taller bar stools and seats to complete your outdoor bar area. Make sure your bar stools are the appropriate height and correspond with your restaurant’s aesthetic, such as vintage reclaimed wood bar stools or modern metal bar stools for a more minimalist look.
  • Functional countertop: Your bar’s countertop should match the style of your patio while being practical. Choose a material that will not deteriorate quickly, such as granite. Picking a darker color for your bar’s countertop will also make stains from spills less noticeable.
  • Basic bar accessories: Keeping your outdoor bar well-stocked will save your staff from having to make frequent trips inside for supplies. Make sure your outdoor bar has enough glasses, bottle openers, corkscrews, shakers, cocktail napkins, and other supplies on hand so employees can keep serving customers uninterrupted.

5 Tips for Creating an Outdoor Dining Space During the COVID-19 Outbreak

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, outdoor dining has become more important and popular than ever. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dining outdoors puts customers less at risk than indoor dining, which means now is the time for restaurants to optimize their outdoor options.

To maintain CDC guidelines and protect the health of your customers and staff, try these five tips for designing a COVID-conscious outdoor dining area:

1. Keep Distance Between Customers

Because the coronavirus is most commonly spread when people are physically near each other, make sure you put 6 feet between each table. In addition to spacing out your patio’s tables, ensure there is proper distance between your outdoor dining customers and any pedestrians or cyclists passing by on the sidewalk. Depending on where your outdoor dining space is located, you may need to put up signs, traffic cones, or another type of barrier to make it more identifiable.

Another way to promote social distancing among customers is to use physical barriers to create separation between tables. You can use something as simple as a plastic divider or something more aesthetic like a canvas piece of art to prevent customers from different parties from getting too close to each other. To enforce social distancing at the bar, you can fill every other seat with a place holder like a cardboard cutout, mannequin, or even a stuffed animal.

2. Provide Health and Safety Supplies

Ensure your restaurant is as safe as possible by equipping your staff with personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and gloves. It is critical for servers to wear masks because they come in contact with customers most frequently. You can also set up hand sanitizing stations around your outdoor dining area for additional cleanliness and protection.

3. Use No-Contact Menus

To minimize the risk of spreading the virus, consider switching to disposable paper menus instead of having all of your customers touch the same menus. For a more eco-friendly option, transition to a contactless QR code menu. By having your customers view a digital version of your restaurant’s menu, you can also cut down on waste and save money.

4. Make Temporary Adjustments

As restaurants begin to rely on outdoor dining as a safe way to continue offering dine-in services to customers, many have temporarily expanded their outdoor dining area into their parking lot, sidewalk area, or even the street when city officials allow it. By setting up large tents or canopies, restaurants have been able to adapt to outdoor dining. With colder weather approaching, many restaurants have added heaters to keep their outdoor dining space functional.

To create a makeshift outdoor dining area, try using easily removable furniture pieces and temporary barriers like plants to separate the dining space from its surroundings. For example, strategically placing planters around the outdoor dining area can help cut down on outside noise and create a greater sense of privacy. Taller plants, in particular, can give an air of seclusion.

5. Sanitize Outdoor Furniture Regularly

Regardless of how you set up your outdoor furniture, make sure it gets routinely wiped down and sanitized between each diner. Stock up on cleaning supplies to effectively kill the virus. If you’re not sure which cleaning materials are best, check out the list of disinfectants for the coronavirus from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Browse the Wide Selection of Commercial Outdoor Furniture From Wabash Valley

If you’re looking for ways to improve your restaurant’s outdoor bar and dining area, check out the wide variety of commercial outdoor furniture from Wabash Valley Site Furnishings. The outstanding quality of Wabash Valley products makes them durable and low-maintenance. With commercial outdoor furniture from Wabash Valley, you can trust you’re getting high-quality furniture to last for years.

Outdoor furniture from Wabash Valley is also customizable, so you can get pieces to complement your restaurant’s aesthetic. By selecting options within your restaurant’s color scheme and overall brand identity, you can be sure your new furniture will look great with your restaurant.

To find out more about how you can revolutionize your outdoor dining area, contact Wabash Valley Site Furnishings today.