Warm temperatures and eager guests make for an invigorating outdoor season for the hospitality industry. With open-air seating more in-demand than ever before, a little innovation goes a long way when you're expanding or revamping your current patio or lounge area. Mix function and fun to turn your current solution into an outstanding space that everyone can enjoy.

Mix and Match Table Heights

Mixing table heights is a quick way to make a patio space feel less crowded. Using a variety of standard and pub-height tables, use a combination of these various heights to create much needed airflow between tables while adding visual appeal to your floorplan. Bar or counter-height pub tables are ideal for use around the perimeter of the space, capitalizing on smaller spaces with vertical potential.

Pursue a Parklet

Parklets, or sidewalk extensions, are a clever turnkey solution for adding outdoor seating. While they have been an emerging trend in urban areas since the early 2010s, the COVID-19 pandemic saw a massive surge in the popularity of parklets across the nation. The eligibility of a parklet is determined by your city's ordinances, which will also dictate what can be used for constructing these temporary-to-semi-permanent structures. From there, leverage your space as best as possible and take advantage of heaters and other ways to maximize yearly usage.

Sideline Seating

The perimeters of your entryway or sidelines of your patio are often underutilized or may be occupied with decorative fixtures that don't hold much function. Use simple, streamlined benches to provide additional casual seating. Seek out interesting materials or clever design elements to make this extra seating space a visual highlight to your space.

Lounge Seating on the Lawn

When patio real estate is limited but there's surrounding green space, take advantage of these lush lawns with comfortable, casual lounge seating. Pair two to four lounge or Adirondack chairs with a low-height occasional table to create a laidback space for guests to enjoy. While not ideal for food and beverage service, these overflow spaces are a great way to expand waiting areas or encourage guests to leave the lobby setting.

Some Like it Hot…

Depending on where you live, spring might be slow to show and fall might come a bit too soon. Invest in overhead heaters to keep your patio business thriving when temperatures are sub-optimal. Windy areas may also benefit from built-in structures that block wind, which can also add visual appeal to your floorplan.

On the maximum end of the spectrum, create an entire new wintertime experience by placing insulated or heated greenhouse-like structures outside. They go by a variety of names, such as domes, igloos, or yurts, and can be made into a luxurious experience for guests. Make sure that you have considered reservation schedules, outdoor service in inclement weather, and any necessary internal heating while you design your plan.

…Or Cold

Cooling down on a hot summer day is a great way to make your patio business thrive even when temperatures are soaring. Shade-making solutions can be as involved as clever landscaping or, for an easy to buy and set up solution, make sure that outdoor tables have a built-in umbrella holder with enough weight to keep the table secured during wind. For tables without, cantilever umbrellas or building-mounted awnings can provide quick shade to keep cool.


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