The longer days and the warm weather make patrons of bars and cafés head towards those establishments which have a particular ace up their sleeve: an outdoor seating area. This element, which during the rest of the year may seem less important, becomes fundamental in the summer for business to go well. It is not enough to have tables and chairs outside the entrance to your bar. The right preparation of the outdoor seating area of your bar is the best publicity for every potential customer that hurries past your establishment.
To help you find your way through the thousands of rules, written or otherwise, and thus obtain the best results, we decided to put together a shortlist of “musts” to follow. In this article you will find advice on how to deal with local officials, practical solutions and some tricks of the trade.
The 5 rules for the perfect preparation of an outdoor bar area
1. Bureaucracy? No worries!
The first thing you need to ask yourself when you want to open an outdoor seating area for your bar is “do I have the necessary licenses?” If the answer is ‘no,’ then run for cover! We’re kidding! In order to set up an outdoor area of this type, it is actually essential to obtain all the necessary authorizations. While there are no national guidelines, you must ask your Local Council or Authorities for their complete list of rules and guidelines so as not to risk receiving very costly fines.
2. Feet firmly on the ground? No thanks!
Having obtained the permits we mentioned above, you will need a good base where you can set up your outdoor seating area. The best way is to invest a small amount of money to build a raised flooring area. This helps to mark off the areas belonging to your bar clearly (without the risk of going outside the area allowed by the City Council and being fined) and allows you to upgrade your space, removing all the usual irregularities in the road surface, avoiding giving your customers unsteady chairs and wobbly tables due to shabby asphalt or run-down cobblestones. Last but by no means least, raised flooring is considered excellent thermal insulation, because it means there is no direct contact with the ground. In this way, your outdoor bar area will be ready to face the sweltering summer heat and the winter damp.
3. Plants, plants, plants!
Whether your bar is in the middle of a sprawling metropolis or in a small village, the word of the day is the same: green. Don’t be afraid of being daring with bushes, shrubs and climbing plants, right up to the more futuristic idea of vertical gardens. Finding the green oasis of your outdoor bar area in the middle of an asphalt jungle will certainly be an irresistible attraction for your customers, try it to believe it!
4. There is no such thing as mid-seasons any more …
This is precisely why you should pay particular attention to thinking of the wellbeing of your customers’ temperature. While it is true that in the summer months it is fundamental to have electric fans (even better if they have an integrated water nebulization system), in winter you must not forget the installation of patio heaters/umbrella heaters or infrared lamps. In this way, the number of customers sitting outside will always be guaranteed. Furthermore, it’s good practice to provide coverage for the whole outdoor seating area. An excellent choice is a hard cover, which can be used both in summer and in winter, and the only real ally in the case of rain. Alternatively, you can also indulge yourself with awnings and large umbrellas, choosing from a whole range of colors from pastels to bright shades. These are undoubtedly an excellent idea during the summer season for protecting from the sun’s hottest rays.
5. The world of furnishings
As the saying goes in Latin “de gustibus non disputandum est,” (there’s no disputing taste). Of course it is not up to us to tell you how to decorate your outdoor seating area, but we can certainly give you some practical suggestions. The style depends on your taste, as well as on the location of your bar (seaside, mountains, cities, small village…) and on how you have furnished the interior, but always remember that cleanliness is fundamental to give a good first impression to your customers. To help your staff save time and energy, we would recommend that you opt for seating and tables that are easy to clean and made of varnished metal, plastic and treated wood. And finally, the most classic of all: choose tables for 2 people! These are easy to move and join easily to suit the needs of happy couples or groups of friends.
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