Patio Season: Why Restaurants Should Look to Funding for Restaurant Growth and Expansion

It is a beautiful sunny day and people want to enjoy the sun’s warmth. Yet, they are hungry. Just down the street lies a restaurant with a beautiful patio on which they can sit, eat, drink and be merry as the sun glides across the sky. This restaurant should be your restaurant.

According to a study by VSAG, when a proposed investment of $200k for a seasonal-use patio was evaluated, the return was $500k. In that same study with a synergistic design and marketing plan was factored into the ROI calculation, the business achieved a 65 percent gross profit. There are a lot of reasons to have a patio as a part of your restaurant. If your goal is to have a greater variety of patrons, you should know that customers with disabilities spend $150 billion annually in total and go where they feel comfortable. A patio can allow them more space to enjoy their experience and can be very therapeutic when maintained. Another important market are millennials. Did you know, 78 percent of millennials would rather spend money on experiences over things and this demographic of customer is trailblazing this arena. According to Mintel, there is a predicted 22 percent increase in “non-essential” categories across all age ranges. In fact, 72 percent of people photograph their main meal at restaurants and 25 percent of people photograph for a food blog or food diary. Having a patio could bring a ton of buzz around your restaurant. So how can you ensure the patio is successful all year round? 

Make sure the patio design and layout are not only available to those with disabilities, but also that it matches your space inside. Your restaurant should have one cohesive vision. When designing and setting up-you should also consider that the patio will be a space where you can obtain free social media advertising. If your patio is “insta-worthy” your patrons will share photos of how much they are enjoying the atmosphere. A cohesive design will also increase your chance of business development firms being interested in your property.  

Don’t just think about using the patio when it is sunny outside. Consider building for heaters as well as rain and wind coverage. Coverage should be high enough to still allow the space to be open and considering a retractable roof will ensure the space is versatile. Heating and water may be needed so scoping out projects to include those before you apply for permits will make the most out of your time and money.  

Manage pests. Keeping a rain kit with squeegees, mops and towels that are easy to access will allow your staff to do a quick clean before you open so your patio can remain fully functional. Consider hosing down the patio each day as well as sweeping each night to keep any pet fur or natural litter like leaves out of your space. This will prevent insects from seeing a place to hide in your patio space. For the bird pest variety, think about anti-perch spikes and/or wooden falcons.  


A patio is a great way to gain more equity in your space, to increase the amount of business and income your restaurant receives and getting funding today is easier then it has ever been. There are some things to work out as a small business owner before you make the commitment to this beautiful extension to your restaurant. 

Make sure you have done your math. If you use a calculator, you can best make your case on how much you expect to gain in return for this expense. This will come in handy when you are going the non-traditional route because when there is no collateral or personal guarantee involved, the funding company takes on more risk and will want to know how they can help you grow your business to ensure it is a good idea for both parties.  

Look into your permits and apply for them if not, obtain them before getting a short-term funding account. Long-term, traditional lending takes a long time and often requires proof of permits for building loans. The reason it makes sense to have permits before you get a short-term capital funding account is because you don’t want to pay for the money you are going to use before you get to use it. You can check your state website for the correct person to contact to apply for and obtain your patio permit.  

Factor in all the expenses you will have related to building out this patio to ensure it gets you the highest return on investment. Think about an extra staff person or two, POS systems and heating and ventilation to utilize your new patio all year round! 

Be the restaurant you want to be with a patio. Your customers can come and have a comfortable, spacious place to enjoy the love you provide in the food served. Instagram will be flooded with @ mentions and photos of how you have improved their dining experience.