Restaurant Patio Ideas

Outdoor dining has become increasingly popular, and restaurants are finding creative ways to enhance their outdoor spaces such as sidewalk seating and previously unexplored rooftop patios. (During the pandemic, many outdoor dining laws arose to help out our industry friends – and many are now in place permanently.) Let’s take advantage of those warmer months and offer the neighborhood a comfortable atmosphere- just outdoors.

With the right patio ideas, restaurant owners can create a welcoming and attractive outdoor experience for customers. Whether it’s a rooftop terrace, a garden patio, or a sidewalk cafe, there are countless options to transform an outdoor space into a charming dining area.

Business owners can add unique features to make their outdoor seating stand out, such as fire pits, water features, or even outdoor heaters for colder nights. (Our area’s warmer months tend to leave us uncertain as what to expect day-to-day.) When considering an outside space, keep the local climate and weather conditions in mind. You may wish to also include umbrellas, a pergola, or full screened in enclosure.

Before spending any money, there are a few factors to consider.

Preparing for Outdoor Patios

As restaurants look to expand their seating options and enhance the overall dining experience, creating a comfortable atmosphere outside has become a popular strategy. Before embarking on the journey of designing a restaurant patio, there are several crucial considerations that need to be addressed. From legal regulations to the layout and ambiance, careful planning is essential to ensure the success of the outdoor dining area.

Laws and Regulations

Before breaking ground on a restaurant patio, it’s imperative to thoroughly research and understand the local laws and regulations governing outdoor spaces such as noise ordinances. Zoning laws, building codes, and permits may vary depending on the location, and failure to comply with these regulations can result in costly fines or even closure! Be sure to consult with city officials, design team, and a legal expert to help navigate the process. (And always follow all permit rules and proper construction.)

Determine the Space

Thinking of a restaurant patio design?

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Outdoor friendly menu options?
  • Ease of flow between kitchen and patio?
  • Investing in quality restaurant patio furniture?
  • Target demographic for new space?
  • Legal and available square footage?
  • Proper number of staff for two areas?
  • Ways to entice foot traffic?
  • Provide additional parking?
  • Enclosure to help take you into colder months?
  • Casual dining or something a bit more intimate?

For casual restaurants, a spacious patio with communal seating and a relaxed ambiance may be ideal. Upscale establishments may opt for a more intimate setting with private dining alcoves or secluded garden areas. (Sounds lovely, right?)

Warmer months call for umbrellas, heating lamps and retractable awnings should definitely be a consideration. (An “all-weather patio” may not be ideal concept for our New York and New Jersey area.)These added features will keep your patio space open during possible inclement weather and have a longer season.

Restaurant Patio Design Ideas

Even depending on your available space, there are plenty of outdoor dining possibilities. Whether opting for a fully open layout to capitalize on scenic views or a screened-in space to provide protection from insects, each option presents its own set of advantages and considerations.

Once you’ve determined the outdoor space, consulted with the right parties, and decided on your structure, it’s time to discuss THE VISION! Sure, you can simply place outdoor tables and chairs. Or you can create a moment. For many establishments, it is important that the outdoor areas feel connected to your brand and indoor seating area.

Let’s discuss your linen and uniform rental needs today.

Restaurant Patio Ideas

Tropical Vibes

 Transforming your patio into a tropical paradise for diners. Transport guests to a blissful vacation destination by infusing the outdoor dining space with vibrant colors, lush greenery, and exotic elements. (The decor should align well with menu items.)

  1. Tropical Foliage: Think lush, tropical plants such as palm trees, ferns, banana plants, and colorful flower arrangements. (Before investing in any plants or trees, consult the professionals.)
  2. Bamboo Accents: Add bamboo elements like bamboo floors, privacy fencing, furniture, or light fixtures. 
  3. Bright Colors: Embrace vibrant colors like turquoise, coral, yellow, and lime green. Add a pop of color in throw pillows, table linens, and umbrellas.
  4. Tiki Bar: Go big! Install a tiki bar adorned with thatched roofing.  For a more luxury feel, you may want to opt for a more subtle patio bar set-up. Of course, don’t forget the tropical-inspired cocktails!
  5. Island Music: Let’s set the mood with a curated playlist featuring upbeat reggae, calypso, or steel drum music.  Weekend nights? Try a local live band.

 Make It a Mood

Creating a romantic and intimate atmosphere in your outdoors space. A more neutral or subtle color scheme works best for this type of environment. Warmer months are the ideal time for romantic nights out on the town.

  1. Private Dining Sections: Designate small, secluded areas where couples can enjoy an intimate seating featuring your delicious food. Utilize lush greenery, draping curtains, or decorative partitions to create that sense of exclusivity and privacy.
  2. Soft Lighting: Soft, ambient lighting such as fairy lights, candles, or lanterns create such a warm and romantic atmosphere. As you already know, dim lighting not only adds to the intimacy of the space but also enhances the beauty of the outdoor setting.
  3. Cozy Seating: If you have an enclosed section, provide cozy seating such as plush cushions, upholstered chairs, or loveseats. Consider adding throw blankets or faux fur rugs for added coziness during cooler evenings. (Ideal for a luxury lounge vibe.)
  4. Live Music: Live acoustic music such as a piano or live guitarist serenading guests is a perfect addition to your romantic space.
  5. Fire Pits: Fire pits and patio heaters provide warmth and ambiance. Of course, be sure to take all safety precautions. Drinks and fire can be tricky.

Family Friendly Restaurant Patio Ideas

If your restaurant’s target audience is families, then you’ll want to create a fun, casual space.

  1. Spacious Seating: Provide ample seating options to handle small and larger family parties. Patio furniture needs to be versatile and easy-to-move around. Even though this is a casual outdoor area, space out tables to accommodate louder tables, strollers, etc. Highchairs and booster seats should be readily available.
  2. Play Areas: Have the space? Consider play areas where children can safely play. This can include playground equipment, interactive games, or designated areas for drawing and coloring.
  3. Pops of Color:  Choose vibrant colors, playful patterns, and whimsical decor elements that appeal to children or anyone looking for a little joy! Bright restaurant tablecloths, bold colored chairs, and other fun decor can really make the theme.
  4. Family-Friendly Events: Once you are all set up, you should consider hosting family-friendly events and activities. Themed nights, movie screenings, live music, and storytelling sessions all make great possible outings. And they are also great for your community.

 A Fun Communal Area

A communal space, reminiscent of a lively biergarten, fosters a sense of community and brings people together for fun and libations. (One of our favorite restaurant patio ideas!)

  1. Strategic Seating: Arrange long communal tables and bench seating. This encourages guests to sit together and socialize in looser style seating arrangements.
  2. Outdoor Bar: A large, central outdoor bar also allows guests to gather. People can sit on stools or gather around. Perfect for live entertainment and sporting event viewings.
  3. Outdoor Games: Create an outdoor game and activity area; it should be somewhat set away from dining tables.  Lawn games such as cornhole, giant Jenga, and bocce is perfect for this audience.
  4. Community Events: Host regular community events such as beer tastings, themed parties, or seasonal celebrations bringing locals together.  Where this delicious food and flowing drinks, people will gather.

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Best Use of a Small Space

Limited space? You can still create a charming and inviting atmosphere by maximizing every feet of dining area.  With a little creativity, you’re sure to find the perfect solution for those warmer months.

  1. Optimize Seating Arrangements: Choose space-saving furniture such as bistro tables or built-in benches that can be easily rearranged to accommodate varying group sizes. Utilize vertical space by incorporating bar-height tables or wall-mounted seating to maximize seating capacity without overcrowding.
  2. Multi-Purpose Design: Design the outdoor dining area to serve multiple functions and make it as versatile as possible. Flexibility is key to making the most of limited space. Smartly designed but still offers a comfortable dining experience.
  3. Foldable Features: Foldable or collapsible elements such as awnings, umbrellas, or privacy screens can be easily adjusted based on weather conditions or privacy preferences. 
  4. Streamlined Decor: Keep decor elements minimalistic and streamlined to avoid cluttering the space.  Warmer weather also tends to bring in harsher weather so you’ll be thankful you kept it minimal!

Dog-friendly Dining

If your neighborhood is very dog-friendly, consider a spot for fur baby-loving families. Many restaurants have strict policies against allowing pets. And yet, there are plenty of diners who would love the opportunity to have a favorite go-to spot that allows the whole family.

A key aspect of designing a dog-friendly restaurant is to create a patio area where dogs can comfortably relax and socialize with their owners. The patio should be spacious enough to accommodate both dogs and owners without feeling overcrowded. Additionally, each table should be strategically placed to ensure there is enough distance between dogs to prevent any potential conflicts.

Provide water bowls throughout the patio area. Many dog-friendly establishments offer special treats because dogs like delicious food too! Also, be sure to create a shaded areas with umbrellas or awnings allowing both all patrons to escape the sun. All dogs need proper access to a ‘bathroom’. Do not forget assigning a small, designated area with artificial grass or spot; this should include complimentary disposable waste bags and trash bin.

Make the Most of Your Patio

If you have a restaurant space and are looking to scale without moving, adding an outdoor space is an ideal answer. Of course, you have to follow your local and state laws, regulations, etc. With the right plan in place, you can truly maximize profitability.

Your patio should be an extension of your restaurant’s brand. Compliment or mirror your indoor dining space to stay cohesive. However, offering a special patio or seasonal menu is a great way to bring in new diners. Consider mixing in some seasonal dishes or refreshing beverages that scream ‘summer’. Craft cocktails, light salads, or grilled options are all great choices. Be sure to promote your patio menu through social media platforms (and any other marketing tool you prefer), influencer marketing, website updates, and table advertising to increase awareness.

Maximizing the profitability of your patio requires some creativity and attention to detail. Let’s revisit the key points:

  • Create an inviting atmosphere.
  • Utilize effective signage and advertising.
  • Offer a specialized or seasonal menu items.
  • Consider accessibility seating and movement.
  • Provide outdoor heating and weather protection.

Enjoy the rewards of your hard work!  We hope you enjoyed all the restaurant patio ideas provided. Ask for a quote today.

Bergen Linen Indoor and Outdoor Offerings

We offer tablecloths, uniforms, and other kitchen linen essentials to the New Jersey and New York Metro area. Our team is here to learn about what your establishment needs and find the best way to service your team. 

When you choose Bergen Linen, you choose reliable and consistent service. Even if you still are under contract, take a few minutes to speak with one of our representatives. They can provide pointers on how to transition and answer other question you may have. At Bergen Linen, we never want a client to feel ‘trapped’. It’s why all of our agreements are transparent. There are no hidden fees or surprises.

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