The dream beer garden

Experts say the right furniture is the key to creating great outdoor areas

WHILE pubs offer safe haven from the worst aspects of Scottish weather during the winter months, when higher temperatures come around customers in the on-trade are often looking to go al fresco as often as possible, meaning pubs with an outdoor area have an immediate advantage.

As operators begin to plan for beer garden season, it’s crucial to make outside spaces as tempting as possible and create a space that makes customers want to visit more often and stay longer.

Therefore, the right furniture is essential.

With the trend towards al fresco eating and drinking said to be on the rise in the UK, an aesthetically appealing outdoor area can help licensees make the most of summer, said Sarah Gechie, product specialist at Trent Furniture.

She said that a “well-planned outdoor space can significantly increase business capacity and customer numbers”.

“Operators can increase average spend per head, entice new customers in and keep customers returning simply by creating an inviting and well maintained outdoor space,” said Gechie.

“To many, the exterior of a pub reflects what they might find inside and also what kind of service they can expect so it’s an excellent opportunity to promote a pub to passing trade and regular customers alike.”

And the significance of the right outdoor furniture in such spaces was underlined by Jan Dammis, head of international sales for hospitality furniture firm Go In.

He said: “Outside is definitely ‘in’.  Al fresco dining and outdoor bars and restaurants are booming right across Europe.

“Carefully designed terraces get people flocking in and are an excellent source of revenue.

“Choosing the correct outdoor furniture and creating an attractive outside space which fits your overall concept is the key to success.

“Outdoor spaces are more than just an add-on; they should be designed to complement the visual style of the rest of the bar or restaurant.”

As looks matter in the on-trade, it’s vital – whether purchasing some new kit for outdoor areas or planning a complete redesign of the space – that a pleasing look is created.

Al fresco dining and outdoor bars and restaurants are booming right across Europe.

Gary Vale, managing director of Eden Furniture, said he expects traditional looks to remain at the forefront of design trends for outdoor spaces this year.

“Classic styles continue to be very popular, conveying a comforting sense of reliability and trust,” said Vale.

“The Parisian café look is always stylish, the vintage look has also been reinvented and given a makeover with a whole new range of colours.”

And in colour terms, Trent Furniture’s Gechie reckons that, although bright-hued tables and chairs can give spaces a quirky lift, darker colours and shades can often be a safer option for licensees.

“Colour is important when it comes to outdoor furniture,” she said.

“Brightly coloured furniture adds interest to an area, whilst bright silvers such as stainless steel and aluminium are really on-trend right now and add a contemporary style to pub gardens and patios of all shapes and sizes.

“Dark colours including grey and black are a classic choice and an investment that won’t date so should be considered when buying new furniture for a venue’s exterior.”

And with summer weather in Scotland being difficult, if not impossible, to predict, Vale at Eden said licensees should remember parasols and outdoor heaters can help “extend the season” for outdoor eating and drinking and make guests more likely to stay.