It’s everyone’s favorite time of year: patio season! Diners love patio season because, well, with great food, drinks, company, and weather – who wouldn’t? But, this time of year can also work to your advantage as a restaurateur. This is exactly why you need restaurant patio ideas in your back pocket to give you design inspiration.
Having a patio at your restaurant offers numerous benefits. The extra space enables you to double your seating and increase your revenue as a result, but it also provides a unique dining experience for your guests. So, if you’ve been thinking about setting up a patio, there’s no better time than the present to make your vision a reality.
In this guide to restaurant patio design, we’ll explore:
- 14 of the best outdoor restaurant patio ideas to try
- 4 restaurant patio design tips to consider
It’s time to get creative!
14 Outdoor Restaurant Patio Ideas
Restaurant interior design can be fun and exciting, but it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Not sure how you want your patio to look? Whether you’re starting from scratch or revamping an existing space, here are 14 restaurant patio design ideas to get you thinking about different themes and elements.
1. Inspire an Industrial Vibe
From the walls and windows to the covered patio ceiling with its exposed beams and pipes, Los Angeles, California’s Manuela restaurant knows how to inspire an industrial vibe. The venue is the real deal, too – it’s housed in an antique warehouse. However, you can create this look even in a modern building with the right restaurant patio design elements like brick flooring and industrial lighting.
2. Transport Your Guests to the Tropics
You don’t need to be on an island with a white sand beach to make your guests feel like they’re in a tropical paradise. In fact, Coppa Club is located in the heart of London, England, but has done an excellent job creating a tropical atmosphere, which the restaurant calls its “terrace of escapism.” Leveraging design to transport your guests to another place, visually, is one of the best commercial patio ideas to try.
3. Go Minimalist
Granted, not every restaurant patio comes with a stunning view of the French Riviera. Regardless, the minimalist look can work well in a variety of spaces. Light, natural colors and textures (think white, beige, rattan, and wood) create an airy, summery vibe that’s perfect for a restaurant patio, like this one at Eden-Roc Bar.
4. Create a Plant Lover’s Paradise
It’s no wonder Chicago, Illinois’ Aba restaurant won Best New Restaurant in the Chicago Tribune’s Readers’ Choice Food Awards – Aba knows food and decor. The Mediterranean restaurant boasts a gorgeous rooftop patio that’s adorned with greenery that contrasts beautifully with the adjacent cityscape.
5. Combine a Variety of Styles
Can’t choose between rustic, ornate, or modern restaurant patio design ideas? This patio at L.A.’s Le Jardin restaurant proves you don’t have to pick just one style. From richly colored wood-paneled walls to an elaborate gold-framed mirror to chic black and white sofa cushions, this restaurant isn’t afraid to play with design – and you shouldn’t be, either!
6. Evoke a Moody Atmosphere
Use earthy colors like reds and browns, as well as warm yellow lighting to create an intimate, moody vibe on your restaurant patio, just like Metis Bali Restaurant has done. The seating is comfortable yet stylish, and the circular light fixtures and textured wall behind the bar add visual interest to the space.
7. Highlight an Accent Wall
Accent walls aren’t only for your restaurant’s indoor dining area. While not all patios offer the ability to have an accent wall, if yours does, seize the opportunity! That’s what Brooklyn-based restaurant Loosie’s Kitchen has done with this bright, geometric pattern. Accent walls are both smart design elements and great conversation starters.
8. Cultivate a Communal Feeling
Not only does Zendo’s patio feature an eye-catching mural (another form of accent wall), the Albuquerque, New Mexico-based coffee shop also creates a communal area by using long tables with bench seating for guests to gather. This is a good design tip for a patio of any size, but it’s one of the best small restaurant patio ideas you can use to make the most of your space.
9. Light it Up
Brooklyn, New York-based restaurant Gran Eléctrica knows how to light up a patio. Take a page from the Mexican restaurant’s book and use string lights to create a twinkling canopy, providing a magical outdoor atmosphere for your guests while they dine. Incorporate lighting into your tablescape, too, to amp up the enchantment factor.
10. Offer Dome Dining
Popularized during the physical distancing days of the COVID-19 pandemic, dome dining is more than just a way to put six feet between your guests. These domes at The Source Hotel + Market Hall in Denver, Colorado are visually striking and make for a memorable small group dining experience.
11. Get Interactive
Going out to eat should be fun, right? How about making it all fun and games by incorporating a place to play games into your patio, like Nashville’s Pinewood Social restaurant has done. This is one of the best restaurant patio design ideas for getting your guests fully engaged in the experience of visiting your venue. You’ve got to love how much flexibility patio season offers your restaurant to surprise and delight customers!
12. Make Use of a Small Space
You don’t need a patio that’s large enough to play games on to create a stellar outdoor atmosphere for your guests. While small restaurant patio ideas can be tricky to execute, it’s worth the effort to build an outdoor oasis for your guests. Bar Siena in Chicago has taken sidewalk patio dining to a new level with its open-air space. The casual Italian restaurant’s patio is complete with umbrellas, fake grass, and vertical plants that all help to make the most of the area.
13. Bring Your Bar Outdoors
The patio at Fia restaurant in Santa Monica, California has everything you need to make guests feel welcome. From the variety of seating types to the patio heaters to the true showstopper, which of course is the outdoor bar. Setting up a bar outdoors is a great way to position your patio as an entertainment venue at a time when everyone is craving a little social interaction – now all you need is live music!
14. Build an All-Weather Patio
Why wait for patio season? California-based restaurant Canon East Sacramento has the right idea for hosting outdoor dining 365 days of the year with its covered, heated, all-weather outdoor patio. Think this approach can’t work in colder climates? Think again! Even cold Canadian Prairie towns have hopped on the year-round patio train. If they can do it, so can you, which makes building an all-weather patio one of the best commercial patio ideas.
Restaurant Patio Design Tips
We’ve now covered 14 outdoor restaurant patio ideas. Before you put your plan into action, though, it’s worth considering a few logistical tips for building a profitable, well-designed patio.
1. Check Local Laws and Regulations
Numerous cities and towns have allowed restaurants to expand their patios onto sidewalks in recent years due to pandemic restrictions. As a result, many venues have created new outdoor spaces or enlarged their existing spaces.
Depending on what the rules are where you’re located, you can and should take advantage of looser outdoor dining restrictions that enable you to increase your patio seating capacity – and your sales! Just make sure you research the permits you might need to make it happen.
You should also consider accessible design when setting up your new patio. Not only is restaurant accessibility is key to creating an inclusive environment where all guests can join you for a meal, but it also ensures you aren’t obstructing essential areas like sidewalks
2. Prepare for Inclement Weather
While the thought of restaurant patio dining evokes an image of a sunny, blue-sky day, this isn’t always the case in reality. That’s why it’s critical to design your outdoor patio with different weather events in mind, including rain, and windy or chilly nights.
Keep your guests’ comfort at the forefront of your mind as you plan your restaurant patio design. Umbrellas, heaters, and blankets are invaluable mainstays of an all-weather patio where customers can stick around and get cozy instead of having to run inside if the forecast changes.
3. Invest in Proper Patio Furniture and Equipment
As the days get warmer, it can be tempting to set up a patio as quickly as possible so you can take advantage of the extra space and additional business. However, your restaurant patio design shouldn’t be an afterthought.
Your guests want to dine in a well-planned, visually appealing, comfortable environment. So, invest in proper chairs and tables for your patio. Your guests will thank you for it and they’ll likely want to stay longer as a result, which means they’ll probably order more food and drinks than they would if they were eager to hightail it out of a cheap, uncomfortable seat.
Don’t forget to consider other aspects of comfort, too, and invest in quality umbrellas and heaters if necessary. Unless you’re located in a place where it never rains and it’s always warm (lucky you!), this is likely a wise move.
4. Maximize Your Patio Profitability
If you’re looking for an opportunity to inject extra cash into your restaurant’s bank account, having a patio could be your golden ticket.
According to 2021 figures from the National Restaurant Association, “Outdoor dining represents a significant proportion of business for restaurants that offer it. Thirty-five percent of operators that offer outdoor seating say it accounts for more than 40% of their average daily sales. Fifteen percent of operators say it represents more than 70% of their daily sales.”
It’s important to set your patio up for success. Make sure the space is laid out in a way that’s easy for servers to navigate between the patio and the kitchen, so service is quick and food doesn’t get cold along the way. (Bonus tip: having a mobile POS also helps speed up service!)
You should also ensure your patio is visible from the street or sidewalk. Think of it as free advertising for your restaurant. If your patio is around the back of your venue, just make sure you have clear signage out front promoting the outdoor space to potential customers.
You now have all of the information you need on everything from the creative to the practical aspects of restaurant patio design. We can’t wait to see how you transform your outdoor space. Tag us on Instagram @touch_bistro with your before and after photos!