Outdoor Seating Solutions For Early Spring

Outdoor Seating Early Spring Seasonal Slump

I don’t know if you have noticed, but nature nowadays is having a hard time deciding if we are in the middle of winter or spring.

Liz Weiss
Liz Weiss

With the temperature going from a low of 32 to a high of 72 in a matter of days it’s no surprise that restaurants don’t know what to do. If you are a restaurant owner I am sure you are going back and forth every day, “is it too early for outdoor seating, but it may not be too early.” It’s a pretty large dilemma that can set you off right or wrong for the warm season that is on its way. Lucky for you, I am going to give you some ways to create a relaxed, warm, seating area for this mix of peculiar mish mash of seasonal weather.

Unfortunately, this weather has been a little nonsensical lately, so I don’t think it is time to bring out all the outdoor seating.  This doesn’t mean to do nothing either, just simplify it. Create an outdoor lounge area for when your guests are waiting for a table. String up some lights, space heaters can come out if you already have them, if not consider purchasing one, and if you have a fire pit, use it. It creates a cozy, warm, fun atmosphere where your guests can relax, talk, eat small bites, drink and wait for their table.

You can serve drinks, small plates, even desserts for those who are just hanging out for a drink. Create a homelike ambience, place some comfy couches in your outdoor seating area and place a lounge table in the middle so your guests can sit and enjoy a glass of wine and appetizers.

Offer something house-made like house-cured olives and something informal like pieces of house-made bread paired with cheese or warmed dips. You want to make it warm and home like, picture wood bowls, or bowls with a matt finish like Cardinal’s Geode series or something from ITI. Keep it simple and clean with an earthy raw feel that will make them feel like they are sitting on their couch at home drinking a glass of wine.

For the colder nights think about what makes you feel warm and cozy. Offer your guests desert options that put them in a cozy headspace like a warm molten chocolate cake. Offer them some “adult hot chocolate” with a splash of brandy, homemade marshmallows with some sprinkled cinnamon on top. Serve it in a black matte mug, a color that would remind you of a chalkboard. ITI has some options for a matte black finish that are bright and colorful on the inside. 

Milea February 2019 728×90

Who doesn’t love drinking brandy under the stars?

In addition to the adult hot chocolate, or cider, offer your guests desserts that would compliment the lingering winter breeze. Offer desserts like warm house-made cookies, served in baskets with warmed bread cozies. In a crock big enough to share, put some warm bread pudding topped with powdered sugar and a few berries.

There is not much winter weather left, so make the most out of the remaining cold days and give your outdoor seating a jump start into the warmer months. There are lots of ways to utilize your outdoor spaces, but not using it is not one of them. Create a place where your guests can sit, relax, and talk before their meal. Just make sure it’s warm enough for them!

Liz Weiss
Liz Weiss is the President and co-owner of Armonk, NY based H. Weiss Co., a division of BHS Foodservice Solutions. She is known nationally as one of the nation’s foremost authorities on tabletop design. The Michigan State graduate is also actively involved with WPO-Women’s Presidents Organization. Comments may be sent to eweiss@hweiss.net