How Restaurants Are Reimagining Outdoor Dining


The pandemic brought about a wave of change, especially for the restaurant and foodservice industries as they were forced to find creative ways to keep businesses thriving. Seemingly overnight, outdoor dining became the norm, and people were happy to brave the weather for an enjoyable meal with friends and family. 

As people continue to get out, especially as the weather warms up, eating outdoors is just as popular as it was a year or two ago. And with many positive trends appearing, restaurants and bars can take advantage of providing outdoor dining experiences. 

The Outdoor Experience

The pandemic forced restaurateurs to provide quality outdoor dining experiences complete with seating, heaters, tent-like shelters, patios, and more. It was clear that diners were willing to sacrifice minor inconveniences, such as a noisy street or windy day, to commune outside over a prepared meal. This year people are seeking even more opportunities for community and connection as they feel safer being in large groups. According to the Morning Consult consumer insights, more than 70% of adults said they feel comfortable going out to eat, a drastic high compared to 2020.

The data also shows that people widely embrace the outdoor dining experience and don’t expect restaurants to transition all their dining back indoors. In a recent study done by OpenTable, 82% of those surveyed readily agreed that the outdoor dining experience should stay and continue to grow. The concept of year-round outdoor dining is no longer a questionable business move to entertain–people are willing to eat outside if a restaurateur invests in solutions such as heaters, sheltering structures, lounge furniture, service carts, and more. 

Diners are also far more sensitive to the needs of restaurant staff and operations. There’s a heightened awareness among people who understand what restaurants have been through over the last two years, and many consumers have even stated they’d be willing to pay more because of it. 

Corporate Outdoor Dining 

The dining experience is also evolving in corporate settings as companies look to bring employees back to the office. Many corporate cafeterias need exceptional foodservice, quality ingredients, and the right storage facilities to prepare meals that keep employees satisfied.

Studies show that providing healthy meals to employees helps them be more productive throughout the day and encourages taking needed breaks to recharge. Having a corporate outdoor dining solution is a smart way to get employees back into the office while providing nutritional food to keep them energized and fueled. It also encourages connection and fosters positive relationships amongst coworkers. 

The Bar Rises Again

As people get more comfortable in group settings, bars are back in business with seating up by 225% compared to 2019. Adding an outdoor bar to the patio or rooftop can be extremely lucrative as diners crowd outdoor spaces and search for nightlife. Single people and couples are also going on dates again, which makes having an outdoor bar a perfect meeting place.

Mobile bars are affordable, convenient ways to bring the bar outside at any venue. They are portable and built for safe social distancing, so bartenders feel comfortable. Serving cocktails is also an easy, fast way for restaurants to make a profit since drinks typically have a high margin. 

More Outdoor Dining Solutions

Outdoor dining is a far more seamless, profitable solution with the right equipment. Investing in outdoor dining equipment can help restaurants save over time, as food is kept hot or cold with proper holding cabinets, and serving carts make it easy to transport food to and from the restaurant.

CresCor provides a variety of products to make serving food easier and better for the customer. Cold holding cabinets such as the KoldCube³ is a cordless, mobile refrigerator that keeps food and drinks cold for up to six hours. With its eco-friendly solar panel, no electricity is needed.  

When serving diners outside, staff can lose valuable time going back and forth inside the restaurant or establishment. Having outdoor serving carts and retail extension stations stocked with utensils, plates, condiments, and other food items makes it easier to keep up with demand and table settings. These products are portable and easy to break down, so cleanup and storing are easy. When it comes to cleanup, draining solutions are also key. The Made to Drain (MTD) solution consists of engineered floor troughs designed to assist the draining process and eliminate leaks.

Learn more about how your restaurant can improve your outdoor dining - click below to schedule time in our test kitchen with our expert team members and chefs. 

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