If you own a small restaurant or café, you know how cramped the space can get during the busiest part of the day. At lunch or dinner, your patrons may find themselves standing awkwardly in the corner with their food or waiting by the door for a table to open up. In fact, you may lose some customers if they walk in and see that there’s no place to actually sit down and eat their food. If you have space in front of or beside your business, you might want to think about adding outdoor seating. It can expand the amount of dining space you have, but it does come with some unique challenges.
Do You Have Space?
This is the first thing you need to consider: if you add small tables, even if they only have a chair on either side, to the space in front of your establishment, will they block traffic in any way? If you’re located in an area that sees a lot of foot traffic, putting tables in front of your café can cause some problems. If people usually park their cars in front of your restaurant, will the tables be too close to the parking area? Customers would not enjoy being able to reach out and touch parked cars. If space isn’t an issue, then you’re ready to move on to handling other potential problems.
The difficulty with selecting furniture for your outdoor area is that you have to make sure the tables and chairs you use are heavy enough not to blow away or be damaged by weather yet comfortable enough for your customers. Heavy metal will stand up to the elements, but people may not want to sit on these chairs for long periods of time. You may want to look at weather-proof cushions, but make certain they fit securely to the chairs. You may need to bring some of your outdoor items such as table decorations or tablecloths indoors when you close for the day.
Dealing with the Weather
You also need to consider whether or not your customers are going to be sitting in the sun all the time or if they will be exposed to rain or wind. You may want to consider adding umbrellas to the tables or working with a company that installs folding arm awnings in Melbourne to provide some protection from the sun and the weather. On days that it’s raining or extremely windy, you may not be able to make use of your outdoor seating at all.
Waiting on Customers
If you’re a café that does at-the-counter ordering, you won’t have any problem keeping up with customers who choose to sit outside. However, if you have waiters who take orders and refill beverages, you will have to make certain that they know to routinely check on patrons who are sitting outdoors. This can be difficult if your inside dining room is busy, but it’s a challenge you will have to stay on top of if you want your customers to be pleased with their service.