The Great Outdoors – Patios, terraces and rooftops provide distinct dining spaces for customers, and add revenue for operators.

Patrons love to linger over brunch, appetizers and drinks on a restaurant’s patio, and operators welcome the extra income they capture through outdoor dining spaces. Whether opening up a large patio or balcony for the season or squeezing a few tables and chairs out on a sidewalk on sunny days, restaurants can carve out a variety of al fresco spaces to delight guests.

Art Jackson, co-chef/owner with wife Chelsea of Pleasant House Bakery in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood, created a garden patio adjacent to his restaurant that features a variety of edible and nonedible plants, comfy picnic tables, a shaded canopy and an outdoor prep area with a poured- concrete countertop. “It’s really a lovely outdoor space with a nice high fence,” Jackson says. “We like to think of it as a little oasis in an otherwise hectic part of the city.”

Mason Street Grill in Milwaukee also is located in an urban setting, and competes with nearby restaurants that have patios. “We try to be a little nicer, with plants that partition our patio from the street and people walking by to create seclusion,” says Edward Carrella, general manager. “The key with a patio is it has to be desirable for people to want to sit there, given that there are cars going by.

“The patio has a big impact on our revenue, though, bringing in an extra $40,000 to $50,000 a year. Even a smaller patio can make a difference in revenue.”
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