The COVID-19 pandemic has reinvented our use of urban spaces – making them more open and pedestrianised. The aim? To minimise congestion, make way for social distancing and free up space for hospitality venues to leverage outdoor dining.
Just about every city has allowed restaurants to install sidewalk seating in front of their establishments, with some government officials providing funding to help them transition. Most restaurants have jumped at the opportunity to erect makeshift eateries, yurts and pods, complete with ductwork, electrical wiring, space heaters, sliding doors and comfy furniture, to navigate covid restrictions and continue serving.
Given the right conditions, people love to eat outside. According to Big Hospitality, 79% of UK diners would increase their dwell time in a restaurant if they could dine outdoors.
So what’s new in alfresco dining, and how can you capitalise on your investment?
First of all, make sure you are up to date with the latest initiatives in your city. After a tough year, many governments are keen to lax rules to aid hospitality recovery, especially over the summer months.
In a push to stimulate the UK hospitality sector, the government has announced plans to reduce approval time and remove fees for pavements licenses to make the process easier.
Housing and Communities Sec, Robert Jenwick said, “we will be extending pavement licences for a further 12 months, making it easier and cheaper for pubs, restaurants and cafes to continue to make al fresco dining a reality with outside seating, tables and street stalls to serve food and drinks.”
MPs are also backing the UnlockInn campaign to allow takeaway pints ahead of outdoor meetings between different households from March 29th.
Pandemic aside, there are plenty of other reasons why you should leverage al fresco dining into your long-term strategy. Not only is capacity increased and revenue amplified, but come rain or shine, guests love it! The practice of eating outside is associated with multiple health benefits, including greater exposure to vitamin D. By opening up an outdoor space, you’ll be offering guests something that they may have been craving for a while.
How to get the most from al fresco dining:
Implement a well thought out floor plan that allows for efficient service. If you already provide outdoor dining, think about access, improved functionality and outdoor aesthetics.
Make sure that the layout is accurately reflected in your restaurant ePOS — from which you can assign guests tables and keep track of tabs and orders.
Alfresco dining is not the only trend in hospitality for 2021. The mobile boom is well underway, with more and more guests favouring contactless technology in the age of social distancing. Make sure your menu is digital, and service streamlined with mobile order and payment technology.
Adapt your menu
Diversify your offering with a separate or simplified outdoor dining menu. Think traditional al fresco dishes like tapas, street food and bar bites to promote social style dining.
Consider your customer experience
According to a poll by HospitalityGem, 48% of UK diners say slow or low-quality service puts them off eating outside.Consider implementing outdoor food collection points and make sure staff are well trained with a complete understanding of how you want to run outdoor dining operations.
Create separate digital menus with wi-Q and heighten the user journey with online promotions, nutritional content, dietary requests and upgrade opportunities. No apps, no waiting, no fuss.
The benefits of mobile ordering also allow you to implement efficient takeaway services. Give guests the options to grab and go, pre-order food and pick up from a collection point.
Get ready for re-opening with wi-Q’s seamless mobile order and payment solution, and set your mobile project up for success with these top tips.
In a rush? wi-Q can be fully integrated with your existing restaurant infrastructure to boast average deployment times under two weeks. Get in touch for a free demo and quotation today.