Alfresco Dining

For those UK visitor attractions and unique venues fortunate enough to have or aiming to develop outside space dedicated to eating and drinking it could be assumed that the main consideration should be how to protect customers from inclement weather or which outdoor furniture to choose.

These are of course important, however, there a number of other matters that deserve at least equal attention.

We are fortunate enough to be supporting a number of visitor attractions and unique venues that either currently have or are looking to develop outside spaces for eating and drinking and thought it would be useful to share some of the other areas that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Brand/Organisational Synergies – the external space should typically reinforce the values of the organisation, be sympathetic to the environment and appropriate to the visitor profile needs.

Demarcations – defining the space is important and also provides security and comfort to those customers paying to enjoy the location. Screens are one such option, although there are a great number of alternative approaches, including planters, fencing or more subtle approaches such as different ground treatments. Awnings and parasols also provide further definition to the location.

Menudo you provide the same menu as the internal offer, a streamlined version or something different? How the space will be used along with dwell time, proximity to kitchen and available equipment will to some extent determine the menu focus and complexity.

Service – it may seem unusual to be proposing table service if the internal provision is counter or bar service. However, a well managed serviced area has the potential to optimise revenue through additional sales opportunities. How the space is used or how the organisation wishes to influence its use is a further consideration when determining service style – particularly important when space is a premium.

Tables and Chairs – fit for external use, stackable or foldable, durability, style and size all need to be thought through. A different style and size of table may be appropriate for lighter use within a location that is more snacks and drinks focused compared to those environments with longer dwell times and more of a meal experience. Selecting the most appropriate size and style will result in improved customer satisfaction, optimised space and revenue, along with ensuring the furniture has the greatest chance to fulfil its anticipated life span.

Flooring – the choice is wide, however practicalities such as durability, ease of cleaning and non-slip surfaces for both staff and customers alike do need serious consideration.

Service and Clearing Stations – are essential in terms of supporting efficient service and optimisation of staffing. Service staff need areas to set down and clear to as well as easy access to replenishments of crockery, cutlery and glasses. Dedicated waste and recycling containers, especially in environments using high quantities of disposables, is a further consideration.

By no means conclusive, we hope this list goes someway to helping your thought process if you are developing an outside seating area for eating and drinking.


Posted on July 27th, 2011