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12 Restaurant Patio Ideas Your Guests Will Love

By Madison Eubanks | 3 min read

With al fresco dining on the rise and spring just around the corner, you might be thinking it’s time to upgrade your restaurant’s outdoor space. More and more, guests are looking for a unique outdoor atmosphere for eating, drinking and hanging out. Whatever size your space and budget are, these restaurant patio ideas will bring life to your outdoor area. 

12 Restaurant Patio Ideas Your Guests Will Love

  1. Creative Lighting

String lights (such Edison bulbs) are super trendy right now, and people are using them to spruce up porches, backyards and everything in between. They make your space look appealing to people passing by, while also providing pleasant, well-distributed light to the guests already using your patio. 

 

If string lights aren’t your style, get creative with paper lanterns, tabletop candles (real or fake!) or funky light fixtures. Incorporating interesting lighting is a great way to create a cozy and inviting atmosphere for evenings at your restaurant. 

  1. Firepit(s) 

Looking for a way to increase the seasonal lifespan of your outdoor area? Consider investing in a propane fire pit where people can gather. Many restaurants opt for mobile ones that can be wheeled around and stored inside when necessary. 

If you have the space, time and resources, you might think about having a firepit or fireplace built into your outdoor area. While more expensive and labor-intensive up front, these are generally larger, sturdier and more visually impressive than portables. 

  1. Space Heaters

You don’t need to let your patio’s valuable space sit empty just because it’s cold out. Many restaurants are making covered porches comfortable for more months of the year by strategically placing heaters throughout the space. 

Some versions of these are installed overhead, while others are freestanding and can be moved around as needed. Measure your patio’s square footage and research what heater style will work best and how many you’ll for your space.

  1. Lawn Games

Entertainment is key if your goal is to create a casual atmosphere where people will hang out for extended periods. Having games to play will make guests want to stay longer, and in turn, spend more money. 

Corn hole, bocce, ladder ball, toppling blocks (think Jenga but bigger) and Kan Jam are all excellent options for easy-to-learn outdoor games. 

  1. Blankets

Throw blankets are popping up all over as more restaurants incorporate at-home comforts into the dining out experience. Providing blankets is a great way to keep your outdoor guests happy on cool evenings. As a bonus, they also bring an appealingly cozy vibe to your space. 

  1. Dog Treats and Water Bowls

Bowls of fresh water are an easy (and free!) way to show pet owners that you’re thinking of their pups. Talk to your local pet shops or dog bakeries about discounted treats in exchange for brand exposure at your restaurant. 

  1. Shade

You don’t necessarily need to cover the entire outdoor area, but providing at least some shade will ensure guest comfort during the hotter times of the year. Large umbrellas, triangle shade sails and retractable awnings are all attractive, durable options. 

  1. Plants

Adding potted or in-ground plants is a quick way to breathe life into your patio space. Choose hardy outdoor greenery that requires little or no care– think about shrubs or small trees, or large seasonal planters that can hold a variety of flowers or herbs. If you opt for succulents or fresh flower vases for tables, make sure to bring them in overnight. 

  1. Outdoor Bar or Walk-Up Window

If space permits, make it easier for your outdoor guests to place orders by installing an outdoor bar or walk-up ordering window. Many restaurants and breweries accomplish this by converting a rectangular shipping container into a bartending station and placing it in the outdoor seating area. 

 

Other options are using a small renovated camper, building a “drive-thru” window in the side of your restaurant or simply running electricity to an outdoor counter space. 

  1. Fans

Just like creating heat on cool evenings, providing airflow during hotter months is important for guest comfort. For a covered porch, you can install permanent outdoor ceiling or wall fans, while large portable fans work best for an open outdoor space. The ability to stir up a breeze on a sweltering day can transform your restaurant’s atmosphere with one button. 

  1. Creative Seating

Make your outdoor area feel fun and inviting by incorporating seating that goes beyond standard tables and chairs. Depending on your space, mix things up with hammocks, adirondacks and/or colorful beach-y chairs to create relaxing vibes. 

  1. Art 

Eye-catching artwork like murals are guaranteed ways to get your space photographed and tagged on social media. Consider working with a local artist to commission something that will be totally unique to your space. 

These restaurant patio ideas are guaranteed to freshen up your space and turn those every-now-and-then guests into loyal customers.

Madison Eubanks
Madison Eubanks
Content Marketing Specialist

Madison is the Content Marketing Specialist at Gather. She writes about tips for hosting successful events, trends in the hospitality industry and how to grow business with event management software.

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