As the end of summer nears and the seasons begin to change, restaurants that have relied on warm weather for outdoor dining in many parts of the country will be faced with the task of adapting their dining experience for new weather conditions. Outdoor dining and patio seating will no longer be able to look quite the same once chilly nights are upon us, which means that restaurants must plan ahead to make sure they are ready for the new seasons. While the past months seem to bring more and more change, we know restaurants are resilient and will handle the new challenge in stride.

So how can restaurants change their style to accommodate new weather this fall and beyond? We have some ideas listed below.

Outdoor patio heaters

Without even needing to transform the patio too drastically, outdoor patio heaters could be a quick solution for when the air gets crisper. Patio heaters can be purchased at various price points and spaced around the various parts of many outdoor dining areas. This may not be a long-term solution once winter hits and snow is in the forecast, but the heaters could serve as a solution for the time being, and potentially longer in states that do not get too cold. Patio heaters come in many different styles and have the potential to create a cozy, inviting feeling at your space.

Outdoor igloos, huts, or yurts

Let’s consider new seating elements that could be added to an outdoor space that is enclosed and could keep guests warm while dining at a restaurant. Many restaurants have already done this for outdoor seating during colder months in the past, but outdoor igloos, huts, or yurts could be a cozy and trendy way to host guests outside. The top things to consider when using any of these setups would be to make sure the enclosed space has the ability to circulate fresh air and to limit the amount of time a group can spend within the space. These outdoor spaces could help you to maintain maximum capacities once the weather gets cooler, and offer a unique experience that your regulars may have never seen from you before. Outdoor igloos make for the perfect Instagram moment, so be sure to require reservations for any party looking to enjoy this unique outdoor spot.

Adjusting indoor dining spaces

While you think you may have already done all you can to adjust the inside of your restaurant, consider again if there are any new ways you could rearrange the space to add one more table or an extra pair of bar stools. Maximizing every inch of the indoor space you have is going to be a key element to keeping up with restaurant sales in cooler months. Reevaluate your floor plan, consider alternative pathways, and take advantage of any new space from inventory that has been used up since the last space evaluation. If you need tips or ideas on this topic, check out Episode 16 and Episode 17 of Tripleseat’s podcast Two Chicks, Three Seats.

Promote takeout in new ways

A pattern we have heard from our customers is that virtual experiences and unique takeout offerings (like to-go kits) were a big hit at the start of lockdown, but then drifted off a bit as summer came and in-house dining reopened. This pattern can likely be explained by everyone’s desire to go out during the warm summer months, but that may change again once people hunker down from the cold. On an optimistic note, this means that it is now time to ramp up the marketing and promotions for takeout packages and offer new things this fall. This may mean updating your fall menu, creating fall takeout packages, promoting fall-themed meal kits, or showing off fall DIY cocktail recipes. A customer may have loved your quarantine survival kit in March, and would now love to see your take on fall essentials.

Virtual holiday event experiences

Similar to the idea above, add a holiday-themed twist to your virtual event offerings and show customers that they can still enjoy the upcoming holiday season (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s, etc) as they always do with food and event experiences from your venue. Many companies will still have budgets for their annual holiday party that can be used for a virtual celebration this year. Look to see how virtual events, off-site catering, DIY takeout kits, or smaller events can bring you revenue this holiday season. The only way to get the word out about new packages is through new initiatives, so get to social media to share new event experiences, and the sooner the better to book for the holiday season!

Looking for more ideas?

As mentioned above, booking events is usually a key revenue factor for all restaurants for the end of the year. Take a look at this blog post to learn more about what you can do now to increase your event bookings through the rest of 2020. And schedule a demo at your convenience to take a closer look at how Tripleseat can help you achieve your revenue goals.

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