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Make Your Restaurant's Patio a Winter Dining Destination

As the weather gets cooler, it is time to prepare your restaurant for winter. Your terrace, which could double your capacity during warmer months, sits unoccupied until spring. What if you could make your restaurant's patio an attraction during the winter months? In metropolitan areas all over the country, contemporary bistros, cafes, and eateries have redefined winterizing their spaces. Instead of closing their terraces, they bring out the heaters, cozy decor, and exclusive menu items to draw guests outside in chilly weather. Keep reading to see how you, too, can transform your restaurant's patio this winter.

Why Should I Keep My Patio Open this Winter?

Your patio is a valuable part of your restaurant’s space. It is an area that you own or lease regardless of the time of year, which gives you the opportunity to generate more income for your restaurant. Especially if space is at a premium in your establishment, leaving your patio open for the winter could help you bring in more profit during your slower season. Not only does this free up more space for potential customers, but it also sets your business apart from other eateries that can’t offer the unique attraction of a cold weather patio experience.

How to Make the Most of Your Restaurant's Terrace in Winter

If you are at a loss for how to make your patio suitable for winter use, start with these guidelines.

Make It Warm

restaurant terrace

Heating elements are necessary to make your patio operational during cold winter months. Depending on your patio’s size and layout, you can choose from several heating options to keep your patrons toasty.

Fireplaces add a rustic feel to your terrace's ambiance. A fire will add heat, sound, and light to make a cozy atmosphere that is inviting to guests. If your patio is small, a fireplace may be all that you need to generate sufficient heat.

Alternatively, commercial patio heaters provide warmth throughout your outdoor space. Standing heaters can be placed around your customers’ tables, while wall-mounted options radiate heat from the perimeter of your patio.

To keep the heat that you generate within the confines of your terrace, it is best to have some sort of enclosure. Transparent vinyl curtains can help your patio retain heat, but they do not take away your guests’ view.

Make It Comfortable

To entice your patrons to come outside when the weather is chilly, make your patio space comfortable and welcoming. Providing an area with lounge-style furniture creates a casual environment that encourages guests to feel at home. With blankets and cushioned chairs for extra insulation, customers can bundle up and order food and drinks without being hindered by the cold.

Make It Exclusive

girl holding glass of wine

If a comfy environment isn’t enough to draw your customers outside, adding the element of exclusivity can bring patrons to your patio. Try offering a menu of starters or shared plates that is only available outside or craft hot cocktails exclusive to your outdoor guests.

Similarly, you can run promotions to welcome customers into your exterior space. Try a happy hour special for drinks ordered on the patio, or include complimentary s’mores with an entree purchase.

Make It an Experience

The key to successfully operating your patio during the winter is not treating it like an extension of your indoor dining room. Your outdoor space should provide a different experience that guests will seek out. Whether you entice your customers with cozy decor, unique menu items, or simply the chance to watch snow falling, it is important to recognize that your patio can have unique charm during the winter.

To enhance its charm, try hiring musicians for live entertainment on your terrace. This addition not only attracts customers who enjoy music, but it also differentiates the ambiance of your outdoor space from indoors.

Additionally, you can coordinate your lighting with the type of atmosphere you want your patio to have. If you keep lighting low, this encourages your customers to look outside at the wintry sights.

This winter, instead of packing up your patio furniture, consider a new way to winterize your space. With the addition of some heating elements, seasonal decor to add ambiance, and a few special promotions, your restaurant can draw guests outside in cold weather.

Posted in: Management & Operation | Seasonal | By Christine Potts
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