For a restaurant industry that, like so many other industries, has been shaken by the effects of the global health crisis, outdoor dining has truly been one of its bright spots over the last year and change. It’s been a saving grace, allowing restaurants to safely welcome customers despite the capacity limitations placed on them due to health and safety protocols.
Because of the benefits of outdoor dining in conjunction with jumps in online ordering necessitated by the circumstances, restaurants now face a structural shift. It’s proven to be a reliable source of income for restaurant owners and should stay long after COVID-19 goes. Here’s why.
Outdoor Dining Has Been a Revenue-Making Hit
Restaurants with outdoor seating have seen revenue jumps of around 30%, with many of them converting unused spaces into comfortable areas where customers can lounge and enjoy meals.
Though outdoor dining at restaurants is a concept that predates the pandemic, it’s becoming a go-to for many restaurants as they try to stay in business. The pandemic era has seen close to 20% of restaurants shut down as their revenues suffered, prompting layoffs. Part of these closures can be attributed to restaurants failing to adjust and prepare as the global health crisis worsened, not using outdoor dining, or not introducing takeout. Restaurant restrictions for indoor seating helped curb the spread of COVID-19, with many restaurants creating makeshift patio spaces to meet evolving city guidelines about outdoor dining and drinking. As a result, sidewalks and parking lots are becoming restaurant extensions to promote outdoor dining.
Some American cities have already acted quickly in making outdoor dining permanent. New York, for example, did so this past fall through the Open Streets Plan. According to their mayor, the experiment proved helpful, allowing the city to reimagine better restaurant design going forward. Other cities are also pondering making outdoor dining permanent, like Dallas, Los Angeles, Boston, and Ohio.
What Are the Long-Term Benefits of Outdoor Dining?
Financial gains are inevitable for restaurants, as long as their outdoor dining plans are formidable. Food trucks nationwide benefited exponentially over the pandemic. Many restaurant owners chose to operate food trucks and, in some cases, merge them with online ordering/delivery services. This approach led to the significant growth of the food truck industry, elevating its worth to 2.7 billion dollars.
Much like working from home and a host of virtual initiatives, outdoor dining is a move for the future that provides immeasurable convenience. There’s nothing better for people than knowing there’s more room to do what they have to do or enjoy doing without exerting too much effort. Not to mention the ability to soak in some fresh air and sun. While the elements will be bothersome at some stages, guests can feel comfortable and protected each time they dine outside with simple additions — covers, shade, heat lamps — to preserve the experience throughout the seasons. By introducing outdoor dining to your restaurant, you’re giving the phrase ‘go out to eat,’ a new meaning as people are actually going outside rather than heading inside.
Admittedly, there could be some pushback on the part of some residents who may complain about losing parking or loading zones because restaurants are using them as outdoor dining hubs. As more traffic hits the road, there’s the potential for traffic issues due to street closures.
The long-term prospects of outdoor dining focus less on what restaurants can do and more on what diners think. While restaurants must do their utmost to promote this aspect of their business, government officials need to relax the excess regulation of outdoor dining, allowing more people to realize and enjoy the many benefits that outdoor dining provides. The introduction of permanent outdoor dining improves restaurant branding as it shows an increased willingness to prioritize flexibility, thus improving customer engagement. And, for restaurant-goers, it’s a chance to enjoy new experiences and spice up their social ventures.
More outdoor dining means more opportunities for tips as you welcome new customers. Let TipHaus help you set up quality tip automation software for your restaurant. Get a demo for your food establishment today.