Best Practices for Outdoor Dining

In the restaurant industry, spring means the beginning of outdoor dining. The outdoor dining season is much anticipated not only because it is enjoyable for diners, but it also benefits restaurant owners and employees by vastly expanding the amount of dining space available to customers. In addition, an outdoor space can completely change the feel of a restaurant for the better. To take advantage of outdoor dining to the fullest, restaurants must carefully plan, adjust staffing and maintain the ability to quickly correct when obstacles arise. Here is a quick list of outdoor dining tips to enhance the guest experience while also benefiting the business.

Prioritizing Staffing

Often with more available seating comes an influx of guests. It is important for restaurant operators to plan ahead in terms of staffing and scheduling. They should be organized and create schedules in advance to prevent staffing shortages on busy nights, and they also need to thoroughly train new staff members and make sure every employee is up to speed on seating charts. Forgetting an outdoor table when things get busy can dampen a customer’s perspective of the restaurant. 

Taking Weather into Account

The beginning of spring and fresh outdoor seating can be exciting but being prepared for colder nights and sudden rainstorms can make or break guests’ outdoor dining experience. Restaurant operators who invest in tents or covers for those rainy days will prevent unpredictable weather affecting their seating chart. Eating outdoors can often attract bugs and insects; therefore, operators should research and invest in high-quality mosquito treatments to protect their customers and food all season long. Lastly, retractable umbrellas for particularly sunny days can add an element of color outside of the business while adding to the comfort of customers’ outdoor dining experience. 

Investing in Safe Electrical Equipment

The safety and well-being of guests should be the number-one priority of all business owners. Restaurant operators should be sure that lights and equipment are built to withstand outdoor conditions, and proper covering and wiring around outlets is crucial. Electrical issues could prevent business from running smoothly or end up putting staff and guests in harm’s way. 

Considering Layout for Practicality

Restaurants should create a seating arrangement that is practical and comfortable. If the business has an outdoor server station, it should be put in a place that is out of the way for guests but convenient to reach for employees. Doorways and walkways should be clear and safe for all servers to navigate with trays around tables and customers. Additionally, if guests need to be seated by a hostess, installing clear signage for where to find the host stand will prevent any seating mishaps and make them feel at ease when entering the business. 

Having Flexibility Is Key

The restaurant industry moves fast, and being flexible is the name of the game. Restaurant operators should create a solid game plan at the beginning of the outdoor dining season but should not be afraid to re-evaluate and adjust as the season goes on. There is always room for improvement. 

This information is provided as a convenience for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute legal or professional advice.  It is provided to assist you in recognizing potential unsafe work problems or conditions and not to establish compliance with any law, rule or regulation.