Create compelling outdoor hospitality spaces

As hospitality is finally able open again, Leading interior design & architecture consultancy, Harrison, offers their custom design recommendations to pubs, bars and restaurants looking to make the most of their outside space in line with Covid regulations.

It’s fair to say outside hospitality has never been more important, both to businesses and the patrons. Earlier in the year it was the difference between being able to open and remaining closed, and has become a real ‘must have’ for hospitality businesses going forward. 

Kevin Grima, Creative Director at Harrison, comments, “When it comes to outdoor dining spaces, design, style, character and ‘feeling’ are must haves in the eyes of the customers. They have to ‘feel’ something when they take a seat in your outdoor dining area, and most importantly - feel at home. Your outdoor space, of course, should reflect your brand as much as your inside space – your  customers should feel like they’re eating and drinking with you, despite dining al-fresco.  Interiors can provide a richness of decor, with comfortable, stylish seating and lighting to set the right mood at the right time. Outside, recreating that is tricky. Success is always in the finer detail!”

Here are some of Harrison’s top tips for creating the finest outdoor hospitality spaces:

The right lighting

When day starts to become night, how you light your outdoor dining space is critical to the kind of  atmosphere you want to create for your customers. String lights, tea lights and lanterns are all brilliant ways to light your outside dining area, as well as  capture your customer’s attention. Try to ensure areas of your outdoor space aren’t over-lit, or under-lit, and use lighting that spreads  evenly across the whole area. 

Stylish protection from the elements

You can’t always rely on the British summer, but it’s possible to protect your customers from the  elements and retain a sense of style and ‘brand’ at the same time. Table or bench umbrellas can work brilliantly on sunny days and provide respite from the sun. A step further, you could consider a more substantial covered area that can be used all year around, such as a pitched  canopy – the sound of summer rain beating down on material can provide an atmosphere in its own  right and can be rather soothing!  

Making your outdoor dining area an ‘experience’ 

Capturing customer attention and providing a theatrical experience when they first enter your  outdoor dining area can make your venue memorable.Think about placing fire pits around your outside dining space to create a sense of drama or light up  a large barbecue where customers can toast their own marshmallows or choose freshly cooked  meats. An open outdoor kitchen is also a great way to entertain guests dining al-fresco. 

Outdoor restaurant seating ideas 

One of the biggest challenges facing hospitality in the era of Covid-19 is seating. With social distancing restrictions being relaxed completely, we hope, in the not-too-distant future,  brands can once again start to think about how they lay out their outdoor dining area and the type  of seating they use. Bringing people together, after so long apart, will be key in the early days post-coronavirus – so think  about using bench seating, with long tables where diners can share space, food, drink and laughs.