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The 2021 Summer Staycation: bars and restaurants edition

Optimism is at an all-time high as we head into the middle of 2021

In many parts of the world, vaccination procedures are rolling out, and whatever the weather, people are determined to enjoy their new-found independence. Last year we looked at home-focused staycations. In 2021 everything is already so different that we’re shifting the focus from outdoor living in our own back gardens, to outdoor dining in restaurants, cafés, and bars.

Once the COVID-19 situation normalizes, 41% of consumers will turn to restaurants for relaxation. (Dataessential, 2020)

Food and drink services adjust to changing consumer needs

Outdoor dining is entering a new era with restaurants searching out clever ways to accommodate as many guests as possible with socially distanced floor plans. Some bars and restaurants are mixing it up even more by finding ways to host small events.

"It's essential for businesses to creatively promote their offerings in order to get in front of their target consumer as event planning is expected to increase this year," said Jonathan Morse, CEO of Tripleseat. "Our survey found that people are excited to get out of the house and gather with friends, family and colleagues, so now is the time for venues to get creative in their offerings and ensure they leverage the tools they have to get in front of customers and provide them with a safe, fun, seamless event experience." – Cision

Newly vaccinated consumers are understandably enthusiastic to finally celebrate any special occasions that were missed out in 2020. In fact, profits from the restaurant industry are expected to rise to about 15% in 2021 as dining restrictions due to the pandemic are relaxed. (Moody’s, 2020)

Related read: Hospitality trends for 2021 you need to know >

Any bar or restaurant spaces that can reinvent themselves to include a small venue space would be answering this need with perfect timing.

Alfresco dining: eating outdoors when the weather is nice, and even when it's not

This year in warmer regions it’s likely to be a hectic summer on restaurant terraces. The influx of customers means that for restaurant owners, it is a careful balancing act of atmosphere, service, and safety.

According to Focus POS, outdoor terrace areas have been the difference between restaurants and bar venues surviving 2020 or closing permanently. Restaurants with smaller deck areas (if they even have any at all) are showing fabulous ingenuity, making outdoor seating work even in the smallest spaces by creating dining setups that they’ve never explored before.

Products that provide both privacy and protection are so important this year. So are ones designed to keep you dry! Awnings, pergolas, and fixed-structure canopies are officially Having A Moment.

Catering to even the less confident consumers

Not everybody is as optimistic facing into 2021. Vaccinations rolling out don’t necessarily mean that everyone is ready to go straight back to the lifestyles they enjoyed before the Corona virus. However…new ways of enjoying food mean that they might not have to if they don’t want to.

It’s predicted that by the end of 2021, there will be 44.1 million users of food delivery apps in the U.S. (eMarketer, 2020). Apps like these have grown their customer bases substantially thanks to the pandemic. Takeout kits are another of the innovations in socially distant eating. Window-style service and ‘hatch’ bars could also be a trend that won’t be going anywhere even as 2021 advances.

Related read: The colour trend forecast for 2021 >

Summer restaurant patios: key takeaways

Experience is everything in the hospitality business. With some planning and quick thinking, the food and drink industry could be facing into its best summer in decades.

We will leave you with some key tips for outdoor dining layouts this year:

  • Create a secluded, private space by separating your outdoor dining area from the street with a fence, planters, or dividers. These are also useful for creating socially distant layouts that don’t make your restaurant feel like a clinic.
  • Attract customers from the street with bright, friendly colours and other visible décor.
  • Provide easily visible cues to customers as regards safety, with route markings, QR codes instead of menus and hand sanitiser stations. These will reassure them in their choice of dinner spot.
  • Make your terrace area attractive (and visible!) at night with stringed lights, candles, and other softly atmospheric lighting fixtures.
  • Make your dining furniture as comfortable as possible.

We’re probably biased but our FibreGuard Outdoor rangeis comfortable, soft to touch, and available in beautiful colours that last. On top of standing up to UV rays, our Outdoor range is easy to clean, water-repellent and resistant to mildew and odours.

Thanks for reading!

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