Can a Restaurant Succeed with Outdoor Seating Only?

  • January 3, 2021
  • Written by : Elizabeth Beall

These days, people are looking for any reason to leave the house. Although leaving means several things now: find an open location, check for COVID requirements, and grab your mask.

We’re seeing many of our go-to activities fade away, unfortunately; concert venues are quiet, movie theaters are becoming obsolete, sports arenas are empty, and the list goes on.

What’s left to do?

According to Finances Online, 90% of consumers say that going to restaurants is enjoyable… we could probably guess why — it is human, face-to-face friendly interaction… something we have all been missing this year.

With the majority of restaurants offering indoor seating and a required spacing of 6ft between tables, fewer tables are being filled because less people are allowed in the doors.

Just as any other business owner would do. Many restaurant managers are finding ways to work around it — hence offering outdoor seating.

Can a small business survive on outdoor seating alone? Let’s take a look at some of the benefits and limitations to better determine your answer.

Benefits of outdoor seating

The safer option

With the pandemic being top of mind for so many consumers, providing a safe environment or one that is “COVID conscious” is crucial; if you offer this seating option, your business already has a leg up compared to others.

Offering outdoor seating eliminates the need for excessive spacing, allows guests to feel comfortable, and limits the requests for mask-wearing during mealtime.

Attractive outdoor area

Presenting an attractive outdoor area for fun conversation and leisurely hangouts has been nothing but beneficial for consumers this year, 2020.

Giving your customers a place to bring friends or family, that they may not interact with often due to the pandemic, is simply a relief. Allow your customers to feel good knowing that you are willing to provide them a place to escape.

Limitations with outdoor seating

Seasonal profits

A business that operates during one part of the year, or one that is only profitable throughout one or two seasons, may not be successful long term.

Outdoor seating in the spring, summer, and parts of Fall is appealing, whereas sitting outdoors during winter and other cold months seems less than amusing.

Preparing to offer this kind of seating when the weather does not permit means budgeting for things like tall space heaters, plastic coverings as wall replacements, and others.

Space and availability

With 6ft spacing being a requirement during the pandemic, seating becomes limited… quickly.

Be sure to plan for enough tables, employees, and space outdoors prior to hanging your ‘Open’ sign. It is to avoid deterring guests from your restaurant. If you are usually an indoor restaurant, it may be wise to begin thinking of outdoor seating arrangements to encourage more business.

So, can you succeed or not? Well, we won’t make that decision for you. It’s up to you to decide whether or not you can implement a strong strategy and can envision what an outdoor seating environment would look like for your business, both operationally and financially.

If you need a bit of funding to help get you started, then we are your guys. Contact us today to figure out how we can help your outdoor seating arrangement successful when it comes to finances!

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