How to set up a restaurant patio

11 February 2020

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Why should I consider setting up the restaurant patio?

As soon as fine weather arrives, people love to eat outside or to relax with a drink on a café terrace. To meet this need, businesses are well advised to set up an outdoor space that is welcoming, relaxing and matches their activity. Patios are more than simple window displays, as they form an integral part of a restaurant: a nicely decorated space will attract attention. To make passers-by want to stop for a meal or a coffee, as well as an attractive menu, it is also advisable to have some kind of distinctive design on the patio, with personalised decor. This open space can be looked at as an additional room, so thought should be given to dedicated resources for it in order to manage the additional clientele.

Folded Horizon table and stacked Horizon chairs

While the patio may claim to be a cosy and pleasant space, it should also be functional. Staff and customers must be able to move easily between benches, tables and chairs. Particular attention should be paid to furniture kept outside : subjected to sun, wind, rain and temperature changes, used on uneven, loose or rough ground surfaces, and in constant use, it therefore must be sufficiently robust and easy to clean. Ideally, it is best to opt for light, folding or stackable furniture, especially as it will generally be stacked and stored daily.

 

Precautions to take before setting up a restaurant patio

Any project to set up a business patio should first be looked at from a legal point of view. Occupation by a business of a public right of way, whether it is a pavement or square, must meet all the criteria set by the administrative authority charged with managing it. This is usually the municipality authority. Before starting any work, the business must show the release of temporary occupation authorisation (AOT) for the public right of way, which takes the form of a certificate and requires the payment of a fee.

In certain municipalities only the owners of business assets located on the ground floor and open to the public may obtain a terrace or shop window authorisation; this rule would form part of the local regulations. The AOT will depend on the type of use according to the space used. A business which wishes to add an open terrace, without a ground right of way, will need to request a parking permit from the town hall. For a closed terrace, which requires private occupation with ground right of way, a highway permit will be required, also from the town hall if it is area with a public right of way.

 

Our suggestions for setting up your business patio

Horizon tables and chairs on a beautiful restaurant patio

While creating a patio around your café, bar or restaurant lets you increase your seating capacity, it should not lead to overcrowding. If from a practical point of view it is advisable to leave some free space, a streamlined terrace can also look comfortable.

To optimise the space, think about partitioning the area carefully. It is essential to retain wide access to allow staff to move around, and also to provide a welcome station to receive customers. Around chairs, sofas or stools, spaces can be modular in order to provide space for pushchairs and wheelchairs.

 

Which furniture for a restaurant terrace?

Dedicated for daily use, the restaurant patio furniture must be both solid and practical, simple to clean and above all, easy to move around. To increase space, it is better to choose small sized table tops for two people, with a square shape. This allows you to organise them into a larger table if necessary. Brightening up the space with a few rectangular 4-person tables limits movement, makes working easier and increases the perceived comfort. Do not hesitate to play with the heights of seating and tables, as this will add texture and character to your patio. Finally, opt for table legs in the centre of tables to make your customers more comfortable. If they are foldable and stackable makes storing easier and helps out both management and wait staff

The choice of materials is crucial. Opt for outdoor furniture that is able to resist bad weather and the sun’s rays. Tables and chairs designed with an aluminium frame will be strong and light, while a frame made from galvanised HLE (a micro-alloyed steel) steel, a top of the range material, will offer a long lifespan.

Woven rattan is one of the on-trend materials favoured for the natural look, but which can be difficult to maintain. To simplify the work involved for staff, choose chairs and armchairs with a smooth surface.

For example, canvas seating offers optimum comfort and is easy to clean. In addition, this furniture has the advantage of being available in a wide range of colours and to offer durability if the fabric is easily replaced.

A harmonious combination of colours will denote pleasant and relaxing environment. Do not hesitate to invest in some elegant tones to draw in attention, without spoiling the view with garish shades.

Horizon tables and chairs on a beautiful café patio

Pastel colours like terracotta red or lichen green have the advantage of matching easily with anthracite, taupe or ecru. Be careful with light colours which get dirty and are difficult to clean. Do not forget that the furniture should merge into the decor, whatever style it is. Designer, modern decoration calls for a range of contemporary furniture while an old-style bistro style looks better with vintage chic. The tables and chairs should also match with the parasol fabric. On a wooden deck, invest in natural colours. With light-coloured stone tiles, choose brighten shades to highlight the furniture.

Setting up outdoor spaces requires a global vision, and furniture plays a key role in it. The furniture must be in harmony with current trends and the choice of greater durability, showcasing local products or brands that are made in France and labelled Origine France Garantie, or Guaranteed Made in France.