Here’s a checklist of items to consider when adding outdoor dining to your restaurant:
- Local regulations and permits: Check with your local authorities to understand the rules and regulations around outdoor dining. You may need to obtain a permit, and there may be zoning restrictions to consider.
- Outdoor space: Assess the available outdoor space and determine how many tables and chairs can be accommodated without overcrowding. Ensure the area is properly designed and equipped with adequate shade, lighting, and heat sources if necessary.
- Furniture: Choose outdoor furniture that is durable and weather-resistant. Consider investing in comfortable chairs, tables, and umbrellas to create an enjoyable dining experience for your customers.
- Menu: Create a menu that is tailored to outdoor dining. Consider offering lighter, summer-inspired dishes that are easy to eat outside. Also, think about drinks, and consider offering refreshing, cold drinks and cocktails.
- Staffing: Determine if you have enough staff to support outdoor dining. You may need to hire additional servers or kitchen staff to handle the increased demand.
- Health and safety: Ensure that your outdoor dining area complies with health and safety regulations. This includes proper sanitation and cleaning procedures, and following food handling and preparation guidelines.
- Logistics: Consider how you will manage reservations, waitlists, and seating arrangements for outdoor dining. Will you have a hostess stand outside, or will you manage it from inside the restaurant?
- Marketing: Promote your outdoor dining option through social media, email newsletters, and your website. Highlight the unique experience and ambiance of dining outside, and let your customers know you have made the necessary accommodations for their comfort.
- Budget: Determine the cost of adding outdoor dining, including furniture, equipment, and staffing. Make sure you have a solid budget in place before making any investments.
- Insurance hazards from having outdoor activities. Review with your agent.
- Customer feedback: Ask your customers for feedback on their outdoor dining experience. Use their feedback to improve the outdoor dining area, menu, and service.
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