A Refresh for Spring

Outdoor Dining

Having been stuck inside all winter, customers are itching to spend time outside on beautiful spring days. Get ready for fresh spring air to boost business. With warmer weather approaching, outdoor dining allows you to serve more customers and create an inviting casual atmosphere. This addition to your business could be the deciding factor on whether someone dines at your place or another in town, especially on a beautiful spring day.

Ideas for Outdoor Dining Spaces

Besides your amazing food, customers dine out for the entire experience. Make your space inviting with some fun and special touches that shouldn’t break the bank. Ever since the pandemic caused outdoor dining only, restaurants have found ways to get very creative with their space to attract patrons. The do-it-yourself decorating and adjustments of outdoor dining spaces is here to stay, so try one or more of these ideas yourself!

  • Make a cozy ambiance

Hang lights around the trees or other fixtures surrounding your seating area. This will give the area a cozy ambiance. Be sure to get string lights that are suitable for outdoors. Lights that give off a warm tone (a slight yellow glow) will give off a more cozy vibe than one that is a bright white.

  • Add some greenery or flowers

Flowers and plants bring life to a space and make it feel inviting. There is something about being around plants that makes the atmosphere more relaxing.

  • Using awnings for shade

Not only as a way to block sunlight, the right awning can add a unique pop of color to your space and give it character. Consider using a medium to darker color to avoid stains and discoloration to show as it weathers.

  • A turf or outdoor fabric to concrete

There is nothing cozy about concrete. Treat your guests to an outdoor oasis by rolling out a turf fabric or any other outdoor fabric underneath the designated outdoor seating space. This is a great way to define the space if you don't have a patio or enclosed seating area.

  • Make it pop

Depending on your brand, it may make sense to brighten up your outdoor space and stand out from the crowd with unique bright seating. This is especially true if you are one of many on a stretch of businesses offering outdoor seating.

Menus with a Seasonal Touch

Pre-grill seasonal veggies to maximize flavor such as asparagus and artichokes which are at their season peak. Other seasonal vegetables like arugula, spinach and radishes are great to incorporate in recipes as well.

  • Pickle it

Pickled vegetables give a refreshing pop of flavor. Try adding pickled onions to recipes to complement foods such as on sandwiches, in salads or on flatbreads. Pickled vegetables are also great for seafood like salmon.

  • Limited-time pizza toppings

Adding some veggies on your pizza is a great way to revamp your menu and make it seasonally relevant. Topping a pizza with greens like arugula and spinach can be very popular with guests seeking something seasonal and unique. Our Grilled Vegetable Pizza with zucchini, squash, peppers and onions is a great way to incorporate seasonal toppings, or feature some fresh baby arugula in a Arugula Prosciutto Pizza.

  • Antipasto Specials

People typically prefer lighter meals in the spring going into summer. Offer some irresistible antipasto options, such as a colorful and delicious antipasto salad or a antipasto plate or board. Include things like cured meats, cheeses, roasted peppers, pitted olives, marinated artichokes and bread.

Declutter Menus for Spring

Remember that having an extensive menu means more cost to stock all the ingredients and more chances of food going to waste. Having to throw away inventory is costly so try not to waste as much as possible.

  • Menu Items with ingredients not in-season

Out of season ingredients typically cost more and are not the best quality. Which menu items have these kinds of ingredients?

  • Ingredients in the recipe not being cross-utilized

Which menu items have an ingredient that is not used in any other recipe and has a short shelf life? Is it worth keeping on the menu or should you revise the recipe?

  • Timely/Inefficient recipes

Consider discontinuing menu items with inefficient and timely recipes, especially if there are staffing concerns. If you still want to keep it, is there a way you could improve efficiency? Ask your food supplier if there is a product that would save you prep time without sacrificing quality.

  • Recipes with highly volatile commodity ingredients

As you know, certain markets, especially in the past year have been very unsteady and unpredictable– leading to uncontrolled inflated pricing. Look back on purchases the past year to see which items are the most unpredictable. Consider removing or adjusting recipes with this item.

  • Low profitability & popularity

Take a look at your menu items and rank them based on popularity and then based on how much profit you make from it. Ones that are ranking low on popularity as well as profit should be considered to remove off the menu. With the cost of food rising, some menu items may not make sense to offer anymore at the price point it has been at, so either tweak the price, recipe or remove it altogether from the menu.

Everyone could use a little refresh around this time of year, no matter if that is through updating your space, tweaking or decluttering menus, or switching up something about how you operate. Change is good and helps to grow as a business in an evolving industry.