Outdoor tables and seating with red cushions await the lunch crowd.

An outdoor dining oasis awaits

Get your restaurant patio ready with these five basic steps.

Outdoor dining is around the corner for most of North America, and that means it’s time to get your patio ready. Before al fresco service begins, there’s a list of things to consider.

As you prepare to open your patio, deck or sidewalk seating, you have to clean, tend to landscaping and get the word out to your customers and your team. It’s a big task. 

“Given the current climate—a pandemic, a labour shortage and product-supply difficulties—you need a plan so you can execute with the staff and capabilities you have,” said Art Tigera, Gordon Food Service® Customer Marketing Manager.

Outdoor Dining graphic with information about cleanliness

Five key steps to consider

1. Put someone in charge. Outdoor seating adds a dining room, and it helps to have someone to manage it. Put this person in control of the patio team. Whether it’s seasonal hires or regulars relocated to work the patio, make sure they are cross-trained so they can work indoors if the weather turns bad.

2. Equip for success. Get your tables, chairs, umbrellas, carts, grills, etc. out of storage. Check for damage and make repairs. Also check things like outdoor power outlets, and have an inspector take a look.

3. Think about the menu. In places where the patio is always open, it’s time to shift from winter beverages to refreshing drinks like lemonade or iced teas, Tigera says. Outdoor brunch also is an option: “Easter, Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day … this is the time of year for brunch holidays, and it gets people in the mood to eat outdoors.”

4. Make it look inviting. Potential guests see your outdoor dining as they pass on the street. Landscaping—trees, plants, flowers, tall grasses, awnings, umbrellas—provides a park-like feel.

5. Build anticipation. Whether you’re opening for the season or making changes to your ongoing outdoor dining, make sure guests know. Patio-only specials and limited-time offers can stoke excitement and help you control back-of-house execution. Don’t forget to spread the word about your menu, specials or live entertainment on your website and social media.

Outdoor dining includes many moving parts and lots of details. Preparation makes it easier on your business and more enjoyable for your guests. 

Ask your Gordon Food Service Sales Representative about products and recipes that can help your outdoor dining shine.