As we trudge through the depths of winter, making plans for a brighter, breezier and fruitful spring, savvy restaurant owners, pub landlords, hoteliers and event planners will already be looking forward to getting their customers outside to enjoy some al fresco dining in the fresh spring air.
The phrase ‘al fresco’ is borrowed from Italian for "in the cool", although ironically it’s not currently used in Italian to refer to dining outside. Rather, Italians use the phrases ‘fuori’ or ‘all'aperto’ and the expression ‘al fresco’ usually refers to spending time in jail! To ensure that the al fresco dining experience you provide is carefully planned and is a much more pleasant experience than ‘doing time’, here are some pros and cons to think about in advance of those blue skies and sunnier days…
All that’s good about offering al fresco dining
It’s all the rage! When the weather’s good, there can be few things better than dining al fresco. From the Ritz Restaurant Terrace where Paris comes to London, this hidden gem with lush green gardens and high walls brings a taste of Parisian living to this quintessentially British hotel, to the Scarlet in North Cornwall, built to the highest eco-standards, where the restaurant perches on the cliff-top overlooking the golden sands of Mawgan Porth.
You can increase your revenue…
More people will come to your venue if you offer an outdoor seated area. Diners love to eat outside as it appeals to the senses and has the effect of making food seem tastier and fresher. When the weather is good, you can open up a whole new alternative space and with that can come more bums on seats and more money.
You’ll sell more drinks…
Eating outside encourages a fun atmosphere and often more drinks, including wine, beer and cocktails, are consumed. This again is better for your bottom line.
It doesn’t need to be as fancy…
Because the outdoors is the attraction, you don’t have to spend as much on your décor and table decorations.
And the cons?
It’s no surprise that the biggest barrier to offering al fresco dining in the UK is the great British weather. When it’s pouring down outside, you are, of course, losing money! Additional seating, used seasonally, can also cause additional demand on resources such as toilets and, like the weather, it can also be tricky to forecast how many staff will be needed for additional covers.
Some hint and tips
No matter what type of establishment you run, a simple deck or patio even can increase the revenue by up to 30 per cent. So, if you’re up for going about setting up your outdoor space and increasing your food offer to include outside dining, here are some hints and tips to get you on your way:
- Have an outdoor only special offer to encourage people to take up the outdoor space
- Make sure kitchen and waiting staff can handle increased demand
- Provide heat and cools when needed
- Keep your space clean and insect free
- Add ambience – consider candles or lanterns
- Consider pavement seating, rooftop dining, garden dining to open up your space
- Keep great service standards
- Make sure your furniture is attractive and comfortable
- Allow space between tables – al fresco diners often come with pushchairs, buggies and pets
- Consider smokers and non-smokers facilities and comfort
Bring out the barbecue
Outside areas are perfect from creating a little diversion from the main menu. Why not have a barbecue? Cinders offers a range of barbecues and accessories that are powerful and dependable to help you create the perfect al fresco dining experience.