Outdoor food service : How to make the outdoor season a success

The temperatures are rising, the sun is shining and the days are getting longer - for restaurateurs, the spring and summer months are an opportunity to attract more guests, increase sales and prove their expertise as good hosts. MPULSE gives five tips for an all-round successful outdoor season.

How to get  the restaurant ready for the warm weather season: from outdoor food service  and seasonal dishes to summer events such as public viewing.
Summer outdoor café terrace

What´s it all about?

  • How food service establishments get ready for the summer
  • Five seasonal tips for success
  • How sensible  is the use of mushroom heaters?

  • Open an outdoor food service area

    Tip 1: Open an outdoor food service  area 

    If you want to use a terrace, beer garden and the like to attract guests, you should find out early on which permits are required in the respective municipality. For example, a permit for special use is usually required for public areas such as pavements and car parks, for which fees may apply. There are also various conditions , from noise protection to accessibility. It is also important to remember that shade providers such as awnings, sun sails and umbrellas are important, as is protection from rain, wind and cold . In many places, there are guidelines for the design of furniture, parasols etc. to create  an attractive cityscape. Here, too, it is essential to find out about the regional rules in good time in order to get the summer season off to a good start.

  • Parasol, decorations and fairy lights - create an inviting atmosphere

    Tip 2: Parasol, decorations and fairy lights - create an inviting atmosphere

    "Guests want to feel like they're on a short holiday when they visit a restaurant and want to unwind," says interior designer Olaf Kitzig. It doesn't have to be a major redesign, even small tricks work wonders, such as skilfully placed accessories like vases, decorative cushions or summer flowers. Tablecloths, napkins and tableware in bright colours also create a summerly ambience. Or how about a little beach feeling with a beach chair, hammock and shells? In the evening, candles, fairy lights or LED lanterns create a cosy atmosphere. Many things are possible, but the key question is: what suits the style of the venue? The best basic rule is: be creative and experiment.

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  • Gazpacho, watermelon and co. - optimise the culinary offer

    Tip 3: Gazpacho, watermelon and co. - optimise the culinary offer 

    Spring and summer are an ideal time to breathe fresh air into the menu. On hot days, light meals are particularly popular: salads, cold soups such as gazpacho and fresh local produce such as asparagus and strawberries. A barbecue station can also be worthwhile to provide guests with sausages, steaks and vegetable skewers. Ice cream, sorbets and liquid dispensers such as watermelon are suitable desserts. Cool and colourful drinks such as iced tea and coffee, milkshakes, smoothies, fruit juice spritzers, non-alcoholic cocktails  and homemade lemonades round off the range. Edible flowers such as borage as decorations emphasise the summerly touch. 

  • Barbecues - offer events and special experiences

    Tip 4: Offer events and special experiences 

    Whether live music, barbecues or wine tastings - socialising in the open air is twice as much fun.  Public viewing  at sporting events such as the European Football Championship is also a great way to attract guests. Planning is key here - from setting up and testing the screens and speakers to calculating food and drink quantities and personnel  requirements. Depending on the food service  concept, a variety of other event ideas are imaginable - from ice cream workshops and poetry slams with local artists to a mocktail  brunch with the coolest drinks in the house. It is advisable to collect feedback in order to take guests' wishes into account and continuously improve. 

  • Social Media - Arouse curiosity

    Tip 5: Arouse curiosity  

    Restaurateurs should already start  advertising  in winter. The minimum is a dedicated website that reports on news - from the opening of the  outdoor food service to open-air public viewing events. Additionally, every restaurateur can reach a large audience via various  social media  platforms such as Instagram, Tiktok and co. It is important to regularly post high-quality and original photos and videos and to communicate with guests, for example responding to praise and criticism. Traditional offline marketing should not be neglected either: from the good old chalkboard with the dish of the day to flyers, postcards and posters. 

Radiant heaters: heat source or climate killer? 

Heater mushrooms offer guests comfort even in cool weather. The disadvantage: gas and electric radiant heaters consume a lot of energy, are considered harmful to the climate  and are therefore banned in many cities and municipalities. Where the use of radiant heaters is permitted, restaurateurs  should weigh up the pros and cons of the different types of radiant heaters, including in terms of cost and safety. Which technology has the least impact on the environment remains controversial among experts. The most likely solution is probably electric radiant heaters that are powered by electricity from renewable sources. A solution that is likely to be particularly environmentally and cost-friendly: Cosy soft blankets, hot drinks as well as hats and scarves. 

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