Landlords across the country are welcoming their customers back for a taste of pre-pandemic food and drink. When the sun comes out to play, so do the crowds looking for pubs with beer gardens.
If you don't already have one, establishing a beer garden can be an expensive business. However, outdoor capacity can generate revenue while keeping customers and staff safe. In a recent survey by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 37% of respondents said they would be comfortable or very comfortable eating at a restaurant outdoors. In comparison, only 20% said they would eat at a restaurant indoors with reduced seating. So if you serve food, offering outdoor dining options could attract customers.
If you're planning to invest in creating an inviting outdoor space or give your existing beer garden a new lease of life, here are some bar improvement ideas and things to consider.
Furnishing your outdoor space
Don't be tempted to compromise on quality when buying your furniture. Investing in comfortable seating will not only look good, but it will also make people more inclined to stay longer.
Research shows the coronavirus can't survive as long on wood as on plastic. The traditional wooden picnic bench-table combo is relatively comfortable, can fit 4-8 people, and is great for serving food. A key advantage is they don't need storing away at the end of the day, and they're pretty weather-resistant too.
Consider customers who don't want to sit in the sun by offering parasols for shade. Conversely, patio heaters and fire-pits for the chilly Summer evenings and colder months maximise all-year-round revenue opportunities.
Maintaining a social distance
Even without Covid in mind, people don't want to be sat in too close proximity to each other, but in times of social distancing, you'll need to make sure your tables are well spaced out. Plan your seating area well to maximise covers safely.
Add a splash of colour
Plants, shrubs and trees add character and colour to a beer garden. It's worth speaking to a horticultural expert who can advise on the best options that require minimal maintenance but maximum impact. You don't have to splash out too much; some hanging baskets can make a big difference if you're short on space.
If your garden is already established, cut back any overhanging trees and bushes and keep it neat and weed-free.
Check for regulations, planning permission and licensing laws
Make sure your outdoor space complies with licencing laws and local authority planning rules. Tempting as it may be to get started, you don't want to find yourself facing a fine, having to close temporarily, or worse, having to destroy your creation if you've built a permanent structure.
Suppose your pub is a building with listed status. In that case, there are specific insurance requirements and guidelines that you need to be aware of if you're looking to make alterations.
Promote your pub and its beer garden
Tell people about your outdoor experience. Update your website and social media accounts to include images and widely used search phrases and keywords relating to beer gardens. For example, 'beer gardens near me' and 'family pubs with beer garden near me'.
Encourage customers to leave positive reviews and be prepared to engage with lots of sunny selfies snapped and shared online.
With careful investment and good planning, your outdoor eating and drinking area presents an excellent opportunity to make up for lost revenue.
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