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Attract New Restaurant Guests by Enhancing Your Outdoor Dining Area and Elevating Your Menu

We’re over halfway through 2022. I know; where did it go? There’s just one month left before Labor Day signals the end of summer as we know it. Kids return to school, and indoor dining and summer food trends slowly take center stage. So are you ready to make the most of the remaining season of fun, sun, and guests enjoying a gathering with friends and family?

While we have to face our challenges and form our battle plans, it’s nice to take a break every once in a while, and appreciate what we have and what lies before us. So, in honor of unfounded upbeat optimism and a moment of respite from labor woes, inflation, and a pending recession, let’s explore what we can do to make the most of the summer we have remaining.

Food Trends Dominating Summer

Have you tried incorporating some of the latest summer food trends without seriously impacting your food costs? I know this is a difficult period to experiment with the unknown when a majority of restaurants are shortening menus. You can, however, start the positive comments and reviews rolling by offering something out of the ordinary that offers unique, great-tasting flavors. 

Most of the 2022 summer trends center around healthier alternatives that taste great. All of them are trending via social media, making them a great addition to your menu and Instagram account. Global spices continue to be a drawing card. Some popular, trending spices include Nigerian and Indian spices and Thai chilies. Think spicy, global, and fusion, and you’ll be a hit. 

Exotic tropical fruit and alcohol-free beverages with natural botanical ingredients are still in vogue. Chefs are focusing on streamlining the menu with unique ingredients, focusing on delicious food while effectively managing costs. 

Diners are looking for something new and different. Fortunately, our world continues to shrink, and foods are finding other foods across the globe. How about some Japanese-Argentinian ceviche, Tandoori chicken burgers, chicken wonton tacos, or Mexican ravioli?  

Sustainable Packaging

There seems to be a spark of good in all challenges. The supply chain disruption left restaurants short on the essentials, like straws and to-go containers. Biodegradable straws, simple cardboard boxes, and even reusable containers have become an abundant staple.

Outdoor Dining Redefined

Do you remember the igloos brought about by social distancing and a relentless pandemic? It ended up that people appreciated the unusual, and some restaurants have been asked to keep the trending dining experience up and running. Is there something unique about your outdoor dining area that will draw people in for the remaining summer and beyond? 

Few things beat a relaxing morning enjoying a refreshing mimosa on a restaurant patio or an evening meal under a blanket of string lights illuminating nearby water features and garden sculptures. 

OpenTable shared the makings of Houston’s B.B. Lemon’s outdoor space. They turned a 1,500-square-foot yard surrounded by trees into a resort-like outdoor dining space. Cabanas, private tables, and twinkling lights make this one of their guests’ favorite places to dine. The owner, Benjamin Berg, reported that he calculated the return on investment and determined that the cost of the cabanas, tables and solar-powered lights could be paid for in one day of outdoor service. 

Let people know about your new space and food offerings by posting photos on your social media platforms and online profiles. Include the new menu and the outdoor experience they won’t want to miss. Then, contact local media and get the word out.


How can I make my restaurant patio more appealing? 

Create a secluded, private area that looks intriguing. Some of the best methods for accomplishing this include plants, lights, and natural elements like water, wood, and rocks. Consider fire pits and heaters to keep the space inviting even when the weather starts turning cool and brisk. 

Let sweet alyssum fall from hanging baskets, filling the space with a soft, sweet scent. Incorporating the right lighting makes an outdoor dining area. Wall-mounted lanterns, orbs, pendant lighting, and string lights can transform an outdoor space when darkness descends. 

What is the most sustainable way to package food? 

Have you heard of the Jybe smartphone app? It’s an app that lists restaurants using Earth-friendly packaging to promote sustainability and reduce the use of plastics. As of May 2022, they had about 3,000 restaurants listed. So, what constitutes sustainable packaging? The main idea is to limit the use of plastic, much of which is no longer recycled due to economic reasons. Instead, consider containers made from kraft paper, cardboard, aluminum, and glass, and renewable materials like bamboo and birch wood for utensils.


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