How to Improve Your Restaurant’s Patio Flow for Productivity

Posted by Stephanie Hilliard on Sep 01, 2023

How to Improve Your Restaurant’s Patio Flow for Productivity

With labor shortages and an influx of customers wanting to enjoy the outdoors, adding your patio back into your staff’s coverage can cause hiccups in an otherwise smooth experience. Having this extra place to seat customers can help with capacity and serving more people, but it shouldn’t be second tier. It may be easy to put your patio guests out of sight, out of mind and focus more on the indoor customers, but your patio can be a great asset without a lot of extra work if you have good flow. 

Check out these improvements that will help re-integrate your patio seamlessly and give everyone a great experience!  

Clean Sweep 

Don’t let having a clean patio sit on the back burner! Make sure this area is ready to go by integrating cleaning into the opening and closing shifts. Leaf stains, miscellaneous trash blown from the street, wet furniture from last night’s storm, and more can be taken care of at the beginning or end of the day, freeing staff up during the busier parts of the day. Adding patio cleaning into these shifts can get the bulk of it done and have the space ready for customers, besides the in-between wipe downs.  

When selecting your furniture, it’s also important to choose low maintenance materials that don’t require too much additional TLC. Don’t let your furniture be a source of stress and make sure it’s ready for the next customer! 

Organization Station 

Every successful ship needs a command center, and having an outdoor-specific POS or hostess station can be just that! This keeps everything organized and provides a space for extra silverware, menus, straws, and crayons at the ready. By having this station, you can reduce the time customers will have to wait for extras. Everyone makes mistakes but you’ll also decrease the likelihood that these things get forgotten if the staff has to continuously run back inside to the main hostess station. The more resources you can give your staff to stay organized, indoors and out, the more efficient they can be!  

Good Signs 

From bathrooms to exits, customers should have an idea of where they’re going, even on your patio. Clear signage isn’t only helpful for customers, it’s also a safety recommendation. Even if your patio is on a rooftop, it can be unclear where these important locations are in regard to where customers are eating. Having signage for these, and any other safety measures, all add to a customer’s experience. 

Patio Patrol 

It’s important to have at least a couple of wait staff dedicated to your outdoor space, especially on nice weather days when it is particularly busy. Having this coverage is important to giving patio guests the full experience of your restaurant, and not feel like an afterthought. This doesn’t have to be an all day plan – just for the times of day it gets crowded. With staffing shortages this can be tricky but having a few staffers knowing they are assigned primarily to the outdoor area can make all the difference.  

Bar al Fresco 

One of the best ways to cater to your outdoor customers is to have an outdoor bar! This can centralize guests who just came for a quick drink outdoors and shorten wait times for a drink in general. It doesn’t need to have all the bells and whistles of your main bar, just the essentials to keep patio guests happy. This is also a great place to have a water dispenser, encouraging outdoor customers to get water and refill on their own accord without holding up the bartender. Having an outdoor bar can also reduce the traffic indoors, bringing more customers outside on nice days. 

Stack Chairs  

If you find that you’re changing patio seating layouts often to accommodate large parties, events, or cleaning, it may be a good idea to invest in space-efficient stackable chairs. Stacking chairs come in many materials (aluminum, steel, etc) and all different design styles so you can still add personality to your patio. Not only for moving seating around, stacking chairs can make winter storage very straightforward until it’s patio season again. 

Patio season is a great opportunity for your restaurant or bar to offer more space to patrons, so it’s important to do so efficiently! Every customer deserves a great experience and having your patio set up productively can help your staff accomplish this.  

Want help in finding the patio seating your restaurant and customers deserve? Give our customer care team a call at 800-986-5352 or visit our website to start planning for your best patio season yet.  

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