Patio Power: Making your restaurant patio a priority
In the Carolinas, patios are spots to enjoy year round, with the exception of the dog days of summer and a few frigid days here or there. My patio is one of my favorite spots – for sitting with a glass of rosé, having dinner with friends or watching my twin boys play in the backyard with our dog, Izzy.
Patios can play a starring role in restaurants, too. Done right, they take the entire experience up a notch, not to mention expand seating capacity. Despite those benefits, though, patios are often an afterthought in a restaurant's plan. It doesn’t have to be that way.
The best restaurant patios are tied into the overall design from the start. Here are 3 keys to a knock-out patio that will keep customers coming back for more:
Connect to the interior. Make sure windows and other visual cues link the patio to the inside. People seated inside on a gorgeous spring day should be able to enjoy the beautiful space you’ve created outside. They’ll vow to come back again to sit on the patio.
Represent nature. It’s essential to incorporate greenery via trees, landscaping canopy or plants. Even if you’re carving space from the parking lot, you can do this. Plan to invest in monthly maintenance, rather than asking staff to do it. You want to keep the greenscape looking fresh; there’s nothing less inviting than sad, wilting plants.
Contrast materials and textures. Create contrast by mixing in natural elements such as plants with various textures through fabrics, curtains, glass or pottery. If you're using wood and metal as part of the structure and furniture, integrate materials and colors that offset this to create visual interest. This also can be done monochromatically, using textures in the different materials. The idea is to engage the senses.
When a patio is designed well, your customers may not be able to pinpoint exactly why they like it so much. They just know it feels “right,” and they want to come back again.