Top tips for adapting to outside dining spaces

Outdoor Dining Hospitality

12th March 2021

By Richard


How to Adapt your Outside Dining Space

Creating an effective outdoor dining space.

It’s fair to say outside space has never been more important – both to businesses and to us as people.

For restaurants and pubs in particular, who are among those hit hardest by ongoing coronavirus restrictions, outdoor dining spaces have been thrown into the spotlight as a real ‘must have’ for any business in the hospitality sector going forward.

But when it comes to outdoor dining spaces, design, style, character and ‘feeling’ are also must-haves – certainly in the eyes of guests.

They have to ‘feel’ something when they take a seat in your outdoor dining area – and most importantly, they have to feel at home.

So, how do you develop those kinds of emotions in your guests when they’re outside rather than inside? Here are some great ideas to get you started…


Outdoor restaurant design our recommendations.

Interiors can provide a richness of décor, with comfortable, stylish seating and lighting to set the right mood for guests at the right time. Outside, of course, recreating that is tricky – even on a hot summer’s day or a balmy July evening when everything generally seems right with the world.

It’s possible, although success is always in the finer detail.


The right lighting

When day starts to become night, how you light your outdoor dining space is critical to the kind of atmosphere you want to create for your guests. String lights, tea lights and lanterns are all brilliant ways to light your outside dining area, as well as capture your guest’s attention.


Protection from the elements while retaining the style

You can’t always rely on the British summer, but it’s possible to protect your guests from the elements and retain a sense of style and ‘brand’ at the same time. Table or bench umbrellas obviously work well on sunny days and offer value for money. However, consider other creative solutions that reflect your brand’s tone of voice in providing respite from the sun.

A step further, you could consider a covered area that can be used all year round, or a pitched canopy – the sound of a summer rain beating down on material can provide an atmosphere in its own right and can be rather soothing!

Making your outdoor dining area an ‘experience’

Capturing guest attention and providing a theatrical experience when they first enter your outdoor dining area can make your venue memorable. Think about placing fire pits around your outside dining space to create a sense of drama or light up a large barbecue where customers can toast their own marshmallows or choose freshly cooked meats.

An open outdoor kitchen is also a great way to entertain guests dining al-fresco.


Outdoor restaurant seating ideas

One of the biggest challenges facing hospitality in the era of Covid-19 is seating. With social distancing restrictions being relaxed completely, we hope, in the not-too-distant future, brands can once again start to think about how they lay out their outdoor dining area and the type of seating they use.

Bringing people together, after so long apart, will be key in the early days post-coronavirus – so think about using bench seating, with long tables where diners can share space, food, drink and laughs.

The Stable, a national brand of pizza and cider restaurants, do this really well.

Your outdoor space, of course, should reflect your brand as much as your inside space – your customers should feel like they’re eating and drinking with you, despite dining al-fresco. So, use the materials that reflect your brand – whether that’s sleek metals or warm wood tones.

Remember though: this is the UK, so your seating will need to be durable and resistant to the glorious British weather as well as remaining stylish and on-brand.


How Harrison can help create an outdoor dining experience for your brand

Creating a usable outdoor dining space isn’t necessarily the hard part for you as a brand – it’s making that space feel like ‘you’ that’s much, much harder.

The outdoors will never be indoors, but that doesn’t mean it has to feel ‘different’.

Just take a look at this rooftop hotel concept we developed for a hotel chain in Dubai – competition doesn’t come bigger than the Dubai skyline, so creating drama and theatre was a key part of this particular project.

The stories we create are told through design. That’s what we’re all about.

Get in touch to find out more.