Unless you’re operating inside a closed building or somewhere on a busy urban center, it’s likely that your restaurant will have an outdoor space, where your diners and patrons are exposed to the elements. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as many people may have an issue dining indoors either due to the ambiance or their own preferences. But it often falls to the owners to make sure the outside is just as inviting as the inside.
So, before you call your local awning companies to find the best ways to protect your customers from the heat, here’s a brief checklist of things that you should consider:
Does it make sense for your business?
One of the most crucial things in running a restaurant is managing finances to maximize profit and minimize losses. If you’re considering creating an outdoor storefront for your business, you need to ask yourself if this is something that it actually needs.
Certainly, there are different types of business that can thrive with an outdoor section, such as cafes and other sit-down places. But if you’re running something like a taco or a grab-and-go food stall, there’s little sense to investing in an outdoor space that won’t bring you a lot of profit.
Do you have enough to maintain it?
Another thing you should keep in mind when having outdoor space is the relative cost of maintenance. We’re not just talking about the costs of having awnings, chairs or even a partition if you’re feeling fancy, but the actual labor and maintenance needed to have well-functioning outdoor space.
Due to the nature of the location itself, outdoor spaces can pose a lot of challenges to restaurants. These include exposure to the elements, possible foot traffic going in and out, and difficulty in delivering and receiving orders. You’ll need to consider all of these things once you have an outdoor space that you can use.
Do you have the right permits?
Local zoning and ordinance is something that you always need to check before designing outdoor spaces. Since the street is technically considered public property, if your outdoor space infringes on that, you may run into issues with setting it up. Generally, if you have an enclosure or open space in front of your establishment, you can set up to a limited area outside your property.
However, if you need to reclaim or block off a piece of the sidewalk, divert traffic in any way, or cause a disturbance in the normal flow of traffic, that can be seen as grounds for inquiry or removal of your space. If in doubt, asking your local authorities about zoning regulations before setting up your space is your best option.
Having your customers dine outside doesn’t have to be a complex experience. In fact, it can be quite enjoyable if you design the space correctly. Not only can you accommodate more guests, but you can do so in such a way that allows your business to attract more customers, which translates to increased income.