small business owner

Planning, designing and implementing your restaurant’s patio

Summer is just around the corner. Whether you’re launching a new business, or looking to optimize your current business’s operations, this guide is great to make sure you’re ready for the warmer months. Operating a patio is a huge task to take on. With the right tips and tricks, this will only make it easier on you.

There are many things to consider when designing the patio for your business. Having a patio in the warmer months allows for more revenue to come in from your customers. While it can lead to success, it takes a lot of prep work to launch the patio at any business. Let’s dive into things to consider, and the tips and tricks of making sure your patio succeeds.

  • Dimensions:


    Regulations have shifted dramatically over the past few years as cities experiment with outdoor dining during the pandemic and prepare to make these programs permanent. Be sure you’re aware of how long and how wide your patio is able to be so you don’t run afoul of local regulations and have to rip your expensive new parklet up after you build it.

  • Coverings:


    Your enemy in the summer may be direct sunlight on your diners, but it’s your best friend in the spring and fall. While many guests want shade in the summer… spring and fall shoulder seasons can benefit from direct sunlight. Be sure you don’t build anything creating permanent shade but allow for flexibility in changing weather conditions. Umbrellas are an easy way to let customers decide if they want shade or not.

  • Off Season Storage:


    Portability is your friend here. Ensure you build your new outdoor dining setups to be modular and understand your city’s requirements for off season removal. Many colder weather cities require removal in a certain timeframe.

  • Materials & Construction:


    Consider longevity in your design. If this is something you hope to use for years to come, consider the types of materials you use, 2 x 4 vs. pressure treated wood may be more expensive but will last you longer and get more seasons out of your parklet. Building a simple deck on “bison pedestals” will allow you to raise your patio to the curb if it’s on the street and level it off easily as well. Using large planters to define the edges of your patio could be all you need while making for a beautiful design and a great addition to the neighborhood as well!

For more on designing your outdoor patio, checkout this video from our own Jonathan Berk giving a walking tour of Boston’s North End’s outdoor dining setups and how they creatively designed and integrated them into the neighborhood. This program is currently on pause but hopes are this program will return to the City in the future.

Make it easy for your host to seat your restaurant’s guests

It may take hiring additional staff for your restaurant to be able to handle a patio. Or, it may take having a second host on the clock as the patio is in operation. Look into what your staffing is looking like, and make your employees work experience as efficient as possible. For details on hiring, check out this article.

Another solid tip is to make sure it’s obvious where guests need to go, in order to get seated. Your host stand may be better off outside, under an umbrella in the warmer months. This way, guests don’t automatically seat themselves in your patio area.

Let guests know your expectations for patio parties (BEFORE they arrive)

Not every patio experience is the same. Different businesses set different expectations based on what they’re comfortable with, and what their space allows. Be sure to answer these questions for guests. You can always post your answers with these questions on your business’s social media.

  • Is your patio dog friendly and do local guidelines and state health codes allow pets on your patio? Every City and State is different so be sure to check local health codes and make sure you communicate rules appropriately to your customers before hand. We all love our furry friends but want to make sure we don’t get ourselves in trouble in the process.

  • Is there a limit on how many people can sit at your patio?

  • Is there a time limit when sitting at an outside table? Many patios are incredibly popular spaces in the nicer weather and guests can linger longer as the weather warms. Be sure to communicate as your guests sit down whether or not there’s a time limit on your patio.

Make sure guests continue to have a pleasant experience

The warmer months can mean more revenue for your business. As your business is able to open up a patio to the public, it can allow for your business to thrive! At the same time, the heat combined with your guests hunger can be risky. Check out our checklist for warmer months for restaurants, and make sure your business is ready!

What can Mainvest do for your business?

Mainvest allows you to raise capital from your community, without giving up any ownership or control in the process. By running a Mainvest campaign, you can engage the community and get buy-in from local stakeholders. If you are ready to take the next step as an entrepreneur, reach out to us here.

Written by Jonathan Burke, VP of Growth & Partnerships at Mainvest, and Abigail Sullivan, Community Manager @ Mainvest

posted March 13, 2023
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