First and foremost, equip your restaurant’s patio with plenty of heat sources.
It’s a no brainer and makes all the difference when it comes to creating an outdoor atmosphere that’s comfortable and inviting, even during the coldest months of the year. Some great options include heat lamps, fireplaces or tent structures that keep the heat inside. Tents can range from a standard canvas covering to a high-end pavilion with windows, shades and heating.
Also, opt for furniture that retains heat. Make sure your patio sets aren’t made of metal, which gets cold extremely fast. Include comfortable cushions on seats for insulation, and consider offering small blankets to guests. This serves as both an added layer of warmth and a kind gesture. Store your patio furniture inside overnight, too, and it’ll last longer despite the elements.
Another way to winterproof your outdoor dining experience while simultaneously embracing the season is to adapt your menu to the time of year. Consider adding warmer versions of popular drinks—or some wintertime classics, like hot toddies and steaming mulled wine—and offer them at a discount to guests dining on the patio. Spotlight hot foods, too, like simmering soups. And a fireside s’mores corner is always a hit among guests.
Related: How to meet and exceed new guest expectations