1. Invest in the right furniture and equipment
Perhaps it seems obvious, but without the right preparation, your outdoor seating space is doomed. Start with the basics: Is your seating comfortable? Is it protected from the elements? Do you have a backup plan for when it starts raining in the middle of dinner service? Consider awnings, lights, bug zappers, fans, umbrellas, heaters, and blankets. Once you have the basics, think about the ambiance. Does your space call for plants, string lights, music, or tiki torches? And finally, ensure you’re ready to go with an added service station. Whether it’s an extra POS station, ice bins, or bus tubs, efficiency is everything for both your guests and your staff.
2. Differentiate the patio experience
“We’re booked, but we have room on the patio…” used to be a common refrain heard at the door. In a post-pandemic world, outdoor seating is no longer an afterthought. Businesses around the world invested in outdoor upgrades, while creating special experiences and menus to match. We recommend selling your outdoor seating on Tock alongside indoor reservations. Then consider curated packages or items that are fun to enjoy outside. We’re talking buckets of beer, picnic spreads, or carafes on ice. At Chicago’s Big Star, diners can reserve the “Handshake” to be greeted with a pitcher of margaritas, guacamole, chips, and salad right when they enter the restaurant. That’s a win-win for everyone.
3. Host pop-ups and parties
Don’t just think of the patio as an extension of your dining room—it’s prime real estate for collaborations, parties, pig roasts, and oyster-shucking demos. How can you utilize your outdoor seating for exciting events that keep guests intrigued? Kansas City’s Ça Va is known for throwing patio parties with guest chefs. In the summer, you can find the chef Brian Jupiter of Chicago’s Frontier in the beer garden hosting shrimp boils and smoke sessions. And at Queen’s English in DC, the team brings in wine professionals for Tuesday Tastings on the patio.
Ready to add patio seating to your Tock page? Our hospitality team is here to help.