Operators can cash in on outdoor areas
IT may not always feel like it, but spring is now in full swing and it won’t be long until the great unpredictable Scottish summer.
And although Scottish publicans may not have the guaranteed sunshine enjoyed by their Spanish counterparts, the summer months still create an opportunity for operators to make the most of their outdoor areas.
Keith Ambler, of catering barbecue firm Kirklees Developments, said an increase in foreign travel over the last few decades has helped to change attitudes towards outdoor drinking and dining in Scotland.
“With the benefit of foreign travel everybody expects their local to provide the full range of outside furniture: awnings, garden umbrellas and wind breaks,” said Ambler.
An outside catering area boosts capacity which can help increase turnover.
“In the very worst of summers there is always a chance to sit outside and catch some rays and pubs and hotels which do not provide outside facilities are living in the dark ages.”
Ambler added that publicans with the ability to offer al fresco dining could stand to significantly boost their bottom line.
“An outside catering area extends your capacity for increasing your turnover dramatically for food and wet sales and consideration should be given for providing cooked food outside,” he said.
“A permanent outside open-fronted structure to house your cooking equipment and gas bottles makes for convenience for regular cookouts.”
Martyn Mayes, sales director at commercial garden furniture firm LeisureBench, said there is “an ever-increasing use of outdoor space by pubs nationally” and that with the range of heaters, parasols and furniture now available “an outdoor area can be created to cater for most weather”.
Mayes suggested operators consider the ground conditions of their outdoor area to ensure they pick the right furniture for the job.
Folding or stacking units offer the advantage oaf easier winter storage.
“For instance, a project could comprise of traditional picnic tables for the grassed area, complemented by contemporary rattan on the hard standing area,” said Mayes.
Practicality was highlighted as a key consideration when choosing outdoor furniture by Jan Dammis of restaurant and bar furniture manufacturer Go In.
Dammis said it is important to consider appearance, maintenance, comfort and value for money when choosing garden furniture.
“Outdoor furniture needs to strike a balance between the ambience and design statement you’re trying to achieve for your outdoor area, perhaps carrying a theme from your interior design, and the practicality of the furniture itself,” said Dammis.
“Furniture may need to be cleared away at certain times or stored over winter, so folding or stacking units could be an advantage.”
Jerry Hodkinson, marketing manager at furniture firm Andy Thornton, agreed with Dammis on the importance of thinking practically when selecting outdoor furniture, adding that when furnishing an outdoor area “the first consideration is storage”.
“If the furniture can be left out day and night and throughout the season, then large, heavy tables and chairs can be used,” he said.
“If the furniture needs to be stored away every night for security then it needs to be light, foldable or stackable and very durable.”
Eddie Goldberg of artificial lawn firm Last Lawn highlighted “low maintenance” as an important quality for an outdoor area, suggesting operators consider “easy clean surfaces that look natural but are hard wearing”.