Pizza Today - June 2022 - 45

in isolating times.
While some pizzerias already
outdoor settings while also bringing
interior elements such as rustic wood
claimed defined outdoor dining spaces,
others fashioned new al fresco dining
environments. In cities, operators
converted sidewalks into de facto front
porches while suburban parking lots
morphed into outdoor dining retreats.
Pizzerias that once paid little attention
to outdoor dining found it central to
operational sustainability and discovered a
compelling brand extension.
And outdoor dining's intrigue continues
into the present day, especially as some
diners - one in four, according to a March
2022 report from Morning Consult -
remain skittish of indoor dining and
restaurants look to regain revenue and
momentum lost amid the pandemic.
" We're getting more requests for
outdoor dining spaces because of the
success people found during COVID-19, "
reports Erica Diskin of Assembly Design
Studio, a Boston-based design and
branding firm that specializes in hospitality
establishments. " Demand for outdoor
dining hasn't gone away even as people
have been let back inside. "
Outdoor dining done right
While operators embraced al fresco
dining as an opportunity to rather
seamlessly and cost effectively expand - if
not manufacture - capacity over recent
years, guest expectations for comfortable
outdoor dining rose in tandem - and those
heightened expectations are not " going
away anytime soon, " Diskin says.
Capitalizing on outdoor dining's
potential requires a thoughtful approach
and careful attention to the guest
experience.
Do: Be intentional.
Yes, a pizzeria can plop folding chairs
and metal tables on a sidewalk and call it
a day, but it's far better to fashion outdoor
dining as an extension of the dining room.
Noting that a little investment goes a
long way, Diskin's firm has incorporated
outdoor booths and softer seating into
tabletops and colored walls outside.
" The most successful restaurants didn't
necessarily spend an exorbitant amount of
money, but they also didn't pull items from
a party rental truck either, " Diskin says.
" There was thought to carrying the inside
out. "
Don't: Ignore protection.
Overhead coverage is critical to creating
a positive dining experience for guests and
minimizing Mother Nature's intrusion. A
fixed roof, canopy, awning or, at minimum,
an umbrella offers protection from sun and
rain while also limiting operational angst
should the weather turn.
" If you have a packed inside and it
starts to rain, then where do you put those
outdoor diners? " asks Jim Lencioni of Aria
Group Architects, a suburban Chicago
architecture and design firm whose client
list includes independent restaurants and
national chains.
Providing coverage from other
environmental elements - headlights from
the parking lot, car fumes on the street or
trash bins - is also important. Creating a
border around the outdoor dining space
with planters or fencing, for instance,
not only defines the dining area, but also
minimizes disruption from external factors.
And for those offering outdoor dining near
car or bicycle traffic, substantial protection
is necessary from a safety standpoint.
Do: Lengthen the season.
Even in areas of the Midwest and
Northeast, restaurants can extend their
outdoor dining season with some clever
solutions. Enclosures and outdoor heaters
can allow guests to dine outside well
into the fall while Diskin has also seen
restaurants offer guests branded blankets
as well.
Don't: Fail to consider service.
From roll carts for bussing to a
credenza or hutch storing rollups, plates
and silverware, Diskin urges restaurants
to consider how staff members function
outdoors. Absent the right tools and
service station areas, al fresco dining risks
becoming an inefficient experience that
frustrates staff and guests.
Do: Incorporate lighting.
Whether it's stringing patio lights above
tables or placing individual lights on tables,
lighting is an important consideration as
people want to see each other and what
they're eating. Uplighting on trees, plants
or even the building, meanwhile, can add
a sophisticated touch and provide guests a
more distinctive dining experience.
Don't: Neglect nature.
Bugs, mosquitoes and birds will
naturally be outside, and they can - quite
literally - pester an enjoyable dining
experience. To combat this, Diskin has
seen restaurants invest in three-season
structures, while Lencioni notes that
screens are available for the rolling garage
doors now commonplace at many eateries.
Do: Provide the extra touches.
Restaurants can elevate their outdoor
dining environment with greenery and
plants, which make a patio feel finished;
an evenly distributed sound system; and
televisions, especially if sports are a part of
the concept.
Lencioni also suggests operators add
amenities that enhance the venue's energy,
such as water and fire elements or an
outdoor bar, or activities that encourage
guests to stay longer and spend more,
including games like bocce and cornhole.
" During COVID, people did what they
needed to do, " Diskin says. " Now, people
are evolving and restaurants are realizing
they need to step it up, too. "
DANIEL P. SMITH Chicago-based
writer has covered business issues and best
practices for a variety of trade publications,
newspapers, and magazines.
JUNE 2022 / PIZZATODAY.COM / 45
http://www.PIZZATODAY.COM

Pizza Today - June 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pizza Today - June 2022

Commentary
Digital
Conversation
Mike's Monthly Tip
Man on the Street
Building Blocks
On Deck
Knead to Know
Destinations
A Look at Loyalty
Third-party Conversion
Digital Marketing in 2022
Seasonal Salads
Seasonal Salads
Low Prep Wow Apps
Summer-Inspired Pizzas
The Outdoor Experience
Automation Nation
Exterior Maintenance
Product Showcase
Pizza Today Yellow Pages
The Marketplace
Expo Spotlight
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Ctip1
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Ctip2
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Cover1
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Cover2
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Commentary
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 4
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 5
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 6
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 7
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Digital
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 9
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Conversation
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 11
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Mike's Monthly Tip
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 13
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Man on the Street
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 15
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Building Blocks
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 17
Pizza Today - June 2022 - On Deck
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 19
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Knead to Know
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 21
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 22
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 23
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Destinations
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 25
Pizza Today - June 2022 - A Look at Loyalty
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 27
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 28
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 29
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Third-party Conversion
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 31
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 32
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 33
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Digital Marketing in 2022
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 35
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Seasonal Salads
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 37
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Low Prep Wow Apps
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 39
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Summer-Inspired Pizzas
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 41
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 42
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 43
Pizza Today - June 2022 - The Outdoor Experience
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 45
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Automation Nation
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 47
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Exterior Maintenance
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 49
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Product Showcase
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 51
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Pizza Today Yellow Pages
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 53
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 54
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 55
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 56
Pizza Today - June 2022 - The Marketplace
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 58
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 59
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 60
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 61
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 62
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 63
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 64
Pizza Today - June 2022 - 65
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Expo Spotlight
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Cover3
Pizza Today - June 2022 - Cover4
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