Freshen Up Your Patio for Al Fresco Dining This Summer

In an effort to offer guests “the best sports bar patio” in Altoona, IA, Michael Garner, owner of Sam’s Sports Bar & Grill, decided to invest in an expansion project this year.

“Altoona is growing quickly,” Garner told Modern Restaurant Management magazine. “There are several new hotels under construction, many new homes being built and an upscale outlet mall is starting construction this spring. We felt now was the time to carve an additional niche for ourselves.”

Originally budgeted at $50,000, the cost for the overhaul currently stands at $73,000, but Garner believes it’s worth the investment because it will enable them to capture an audience from anticipated competition. Also, a new fire pit installation powered by natural gas will have seating completely around it. The original seating capacity of the patio was approximately 20. Garner anticipates adding new tables plus the seating around the fire pit, they can potentially accommodate 50 guests.

“With our additional capacity we will be able to add events that we were previously unable to accommodate due to our size,” said Garner.

The new patio will also feature a tranquil area for planting native ornamental grasses and flowers. It will also be wired for playing music and be illuminated during the evening with Mission-style lighting that will be attached to the stone columns surrounding the patio.

While many restaurants won’t be making similar investments, now is the time for those with existing patios to prepare the space for an influx of outdoor diners in the coming weeks. Cintas Corporation offers the following checklist to get ready for summer.

Power Wash Your Patio

In addition to the build-up of dirt and dust, patio areas are constantly subject to spilled beverages, dropped food and gum. Power washing your patio will help remove the grime left behind from winter weather. Power washing will enhance the customer experience and improve the look of your restaurant.

Clean Glass and Awnings

Windows are one of the first things that a customer sees before entering your business, so don’t skew their opinion with a dirty exterior. Start at the top and wipe down awnings to prevent dirt from building up on the surface. If windows have any dings or cracks, address the issue immediately.

Install Floor Mats

According to the Institute of Industrial Launderers, 80 percent of dirt is tracked into a building from outside. Entrance mats are your facility’s first line of defense against dirt, soil and water. Partner with a mat provider who can manage your matting program, laundering your mats on a regular basis and replacing them to help protect floors in your building. 

Clear Outdoor Drains

A flooded patio will keep potential outdoor diners away. It’s important to clear any outdoor drains of leaves or other debris to prevent a backup that could severely rain on your outdoor patio season.

Hire a Handyman

From retouching exterior paint to ensuring outdoor lighting is working properly, identify areas around your patio that could use extra attention. While these issues might not impact your day-to-day operations, they can affect how your customers perceive your business and their dining experience

Update your Emergency Contact List

In many parts of the country, summer will bring severe storms with heavy wind, rain and lightning. Review your emergency contact list to make sure all vendors are still in business and that all employees know what to do in an emergency situation.

 “Outdoor patios can help with revenue stream,” said Shawn King, Marketing Manager, Cintas Corporation. “Restaurants need to keep in mind that the outdoor area is one extension of your brand. Make sure it is visually appealing and reflects your vision. Think it out strategically.  You can’t just add tables without making sure you have adequate staff. Preparing your patio for the outdoor dining season will give guests an experience and not just a meal, while extending the life of your outdoor patio.”

Cintas delivers a wide range of solutions designed for restaurant and foodservice facilities. For more information,  visit