Increase Cafe Revenue with Outdoor Seating

Increasing revenue is a constant challenge in the competitive world of cafes and restaurants. Every owner seeks innovative strategies to attract more customers and enhance profitability. One such effective method is the addition of outdoor seating. This strategy not only expands the physical capacity of a cafe but also improves the overall customer experience, making it a win-win situation.

Outdoor seating provides a unique dining environment that appeals to a broad range of customers, from those who enjoy the fresh air to those who prefer a scenic view. By offering this option, cafes can significantly boost their income. According to a study by the Simons Advisory Group, cafes and restaurants can see an income increase of up to 30% by incorporating outdoor furniture. This substantial potential for revenue growth makes outdoor seating an attractive proposition for cafe owners looking to maximise their business’s financial performance.

Increase Cafe Revenue with Outdoor Seating - BE Furniture Sales

Benefits of Outdoor Seating

  • Increased Capacity

Outdoor seating significantly expands a cafe’s seating capacity without the need for additional indoor space. This expansion allows cafes to accommodate more customers, particularly during peak hours when indoor seating may be fully occupied. By increasing the number of available seats, cafes can serve a larger volume of customers, thereby boosting daily revenue and reducing wait times, which enhances customer satisfaction and loyalty.

  • Customer Experience

Providing outdoor seating creates a unique and enjoyable dining environment that can attract a diverse range of customers. Many patrons prefer dining al fresco, especially during pleasant weather, as it offers a refreshing change from the typical indoor setting. This enhanced experience can attract new customers looking for an outdoor dining option and retain existing customers who appreciate the varied ambience. The combination of fresh air, natural light, and often a more relaxed setting contributes to a memorable dining experience that encourages repeat visits.

  • Seasonal Appeal

Outdoor seating is particularly appealing during the warmer months of spring, summer, and autumn. Cafes can leverage these seasons to attract more patrons by promoting their outdoor seating areas as ideal spots for enjoying the weather while dining. Investing in weather-resistant furniture that can withstand varying weather conditions is crucial to maximise the benefits of outdoor seating. This ensures the outdoor area remains inviting and functional, even in rain or intense sunlight. Durable and attractive furniture enhances the aesthetic appeal and ensures longevity, making it a worthwhile investment for long-term revenue growth.

Types of Outdoor Seating

  • Rooftop Seating

Rooftop seating is an innovative way to maximise unused space, offering customers a unique dining experience with potentially stunning views. Here are some key benefits and considerations:


Scenic Views:
Rooftop seating can provide panoramic views of the surrounding area, creating a distinctive and memorable dining atmosphere.
This type of seating can add an exclusive feel, making your cafe a sought-after destination.
Event Hosting:
Rooftop areas are ideal for hosting private events, such as parties or corporate gatherings, which can be an additional revenue stream.


Structural Integrity:
Ensuring that the building structure can safely support rooftop seating is crucial. Conduct a thorough assessment with a structural engineer.
Safety Measures:
Implementing adequate safety measures, such as secure railings and non-slip flooring, is essential to protect patrons.
Planning Approval:
Check with your local planning authority to obtain the necessary permits and ensure compliance with planning and building regulations.

  • Garden Seating

Garden seating leverages existing green spaces to create a tranquil and inviting outdoor area. Here’s how to make the most of it:


Creative Layout:
Design the seating arrangement to use best the garden space, whether a small patio or a larger landscaped area.
Flexible Configurations:
Use movable furniture to easily reconfigure the space for different group sizes or event types.


Use candles, string lights, or lanterns to create a warm and inviting evening atmosphere.
Incorporate plants, shrubs, and flowers to enhance the natural beauty and create a serene environment.
Decorative Elements:
Add elements like water features, sculptures, or themed decor to make the space more attractive and unique.

  • Pavement Seating

Pavement seating is a traditional and popular choice, especially for cafes in bustling urban areas. Here are some key points to consider:

Traditional Appeal:

Customer Engagement:
Pavement seating allows customers to enjoy the hustle and bustle of street life, making it an appealing option for people-watchers.
Casual Atmosphere:
This type of seating offers a relaxed, casual dining experience that can attract a wide range of customers.


Ensure you have the permits from local authorities to use public pavement space for seating.
Adhere to regulations regarding the placement and maintenance of pavement seating to ensure pedestrian pathways remain unobstructed.
Implement barriers or planters to delineate the seating area and provide a buffer from street traffic.

Maximise Revenue

Investing in comfortable, durable, and visually appealing furniture is essential for creating an inviting outdoor seating area. Customers are more likely to stay longer and return if they find the seating pleasant. Therefore, selecting materials that can withstand outdoor conditions while providing comfort, such as weather-resistant cushions and ergonomic designs, is crucial.

The arrangement of tables and chairs should be done thoughtfully to create an airy and inviting atmosphere. Avoiding overcrowding and ensuring there’s ample space for movement is vital. Incorporating a mix of seating options, such as benches, individual chairs, and communal tables, caters to different group sizes and preferences. Adding shade elements like umbrellas or pergolas can also provide comfort during sunny days, enhancing the overall dining experience.

  • Al Fresco Menu

Creating a seasonal and profitable outdoor menu can significantly enhance the appeal of outdoor seating. Designing a menu with fresher and more cost-effective seasonal ingredients can attract customers seeking fresh and local produce. Seasonal menus can be updated regularly to keep customers intrigued and returning to try new items.

Using fresh, seasonal ingredients improves the taste and aligns with customers’ preferences for high-quality dining experiences. Highlighting seasonal specials can boost sales and enhance the overall dining experience. Examples of menu specials and promotional items might include limited-time dishes celebrating seasonal flavours, such as summer salads, spring vegetable platters, and autumnal soups. Themed cocktails or desserts that align with the season or special occasions can create excitement and drive additional revenue.

  • Different Demographics

Outdoor seating areas can attract a broad range of customers, including families with children and pet owners. Creating a family-friendly environment with high chairs, kids’ menus, and play areas can make the space more appealing to parents. Developing a dog-friendly patio area by providing water bowls, pet treats, and designated pet-friendly zones can attract pet owners looking for accommodating dining options.

It is important to make the space safe and welcoming to ensure a child-friendly and dog-friendly patio area. Soft flooring options and engaging decor can enhance the experience for children. For pet owners, designated areas where pets can be comfortably accommodated without disturbing other patrons can make the outdoor seating area more inclusive and appealing.

  • Hosting and Creating Events

Renting out the patio for private events can be an excellent way to generate additional revenue. Offering the patio as a venue for birthday parties, corporate dinners, and baby showers can attract new customers and provide a unique setting for memorable occasions. Flexible furniture arrangements can cater to different event setups and group sizes, making the space versatile and attractive for various functions.

In addition to renting out the space, organising in-house events can consistently draw customers. Hosting regular events like live music nights, themed dinners, or charity fundraisers can create a vibrant community hub and attract a steady flow of patrons. Partnering with local artists, musicians, or organisations can enhance the appeal and help establish the cafe as a central part of the community.

  • Leveraging Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool for promoting the outdoor seating area. High-quality photos and engaging content showcasing the patio can attract a broader audience. Highlighting unique aspects of the patio, such as beautiful views, cosy setups, or special events, can draw attention and entice potential customers.

Another effective strategy is encouraging user-generated content. Creating photo-friendly setups with attractive backdrops and props can motivate customers to take pictures and share their experiences online. Using hashtags like #patioweather or #alfrescodining can increase visibility and reach, further promoting the outdoor seating area to a wider audience.

  • Appealing to Tourists

Marketing the cafe’s proximity to tourist attractions can attract visitors looking for convenient dining options. Emphasising the location near popular tourist spots in marketing materials and online listings can attract more patrons. Offering special deals or discounts for tourists, such as a complimentary drink with a purchase, can make the cafe an attractive option for visitors.

Highlighting the cafe’s role in supporting the local community can also appeal to tourists keen to support local businesses. Promoting efforts such as sourcing ingredients from local farmers or participating in community events can resonate with tourists and enhance the cafe’s reputation.

Embracing Technology

Incorporating technology into outdoor seating operations can significantly enhance efficiency and customer satisfaction. Implementing handheld POS devices is a crucial step in streamlining operations. These devices allow servers to take orders and process payments directly at the table, reducing the time spent walking back and forth to a stationary terminal. This efficiency speeds up service and minimises order-taking and billing errors, leading to a smoother customer experience.

Additionally, adopting digital menus and QR code ordering systems can offer benefits. But before you do, make sure your customer demographic will embrace this. There is currently a backlash on social media against QR code menus.

  • Enhancing Customer Service

Ensuring that outdoor customers receive the same high level of service as indoor guests is crucial for maintaining customer satisfaction. Effectively utilising technology can help achieve this goal by reducing the workload on staff and improving service speed. Handheld POS devices and QR code ordering systems allow servers to focus more on attending to customers’ needs rather than performing repetitive tasks like taking orders manually or processing payments at a central location.

Moreover, with these technologies, servers can spend more time interacting with guests, providing personalised recommendations, and promptly addressing concerns. This enhanced service level can significantly improve outdoor patrons’ overall dining experience, making them more likely to return and recommend the cafe to others.

Measuring Success

Measuring the success of outdoor seating initiatives is crucial for understanding their impact on overall revenue and customer satisfaction. One effective method is to analyse sales data related to the outdoor seating area. By tracking metrics such as the number of orders, average spend per customer, and total revenue generated from outdoor tables, cafe owners can gain insights into the financial performance of this additional space.

Comparing the performance of outdoor seating to indoor seating can further help identify areas for improvement. Metrics include table turnover rates, average check size, and customer retention rates for both areas. By examining these comparisons, cafe owners can determine if the outdoor seating is performing on par with or better than the indoor space and identify any disparities that may need addressing. For example, if outdoor seating has a lower average spend per customer, strategies such as revising the outdoor menu or enhancing the seating environment might be considered.

  • Customer Feedback

Gathering and acting on customer feedback is another essential component of measuring success. Feedback can be collected through various channels, such as online reviews, customer surveys, and direct customer conversations. Understanding customer perceptions of the outdoor dining experience provides valuable insights into what works well and could be improved.

Once feedback is gathered, adjustments are essential to enhance customer satisfaction. This might include changes to the seating arrangement, menu options, or overall ambience of the outdoor area. For example, if customers express that seating is uncomfortable or lacks sufficient shade, investing in better furniture and adding umbrellas or awnings could significantly improve their experience. Regularly reviewing and acting on customer feedback ensures that the outdoor seating area meets and exceeds customer expectations.

Outdoor Cafe Furniture at BE

Our cafe furniture range offers the perfect blend of style, durability, and function, ideal for cafes, bistros, and coffee shops.

  • 2 Chair Cafe Furniture Sets

  • 4 Chair Cafe Furniture Sets

  • Plastic Cafe Furniture Sets

BE Furniture Sales have all your outdoor seating needs covered across the UK with nationwide delivery available.

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