Eating alfresco

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Increase your flow of visitors by maximising your outside space to look both appealing and busy

Covid has left its mark on hospitality in so many ways. It accelerated the digital transformation for sure, with more and more shops investing in technology to increase the speed and efficiency of their businesses and provide an even more customer focussed experience. 

It has also fuelled a desire to eat alfresco. Considered a safer way to dine during lockdown, eating outside has remained popular and thanks to the government making it easier for businesses to apply for pavement licenses, more takeaways and restaurants have been given the green light to place removable furniture outside premises where applications are approved.

Businesses that have got outside space are advised to utilise it by way of tables, chairs and cafe barriers to create seating areas, as well as parasols and awnings for shelter and advertising purposes. 

Barry Dickman, director of BD Signs and BDigital says there are a number of reasons: “The main thing everyone should know is that if you see cafe-style barriers, umbrellas and chairs outside, you know that shop is open. It’s a great advertisement – not just to brand yourself at street level – but to let people know you are open, let people know you are active.”

Extend the experience

Colmans Seafood Temple in South Shields, Tyne & Wear, has just added seating for 40 on a terrace around the outside of its building. It doesn’t extend to the restaurant’s full menu, but a simple selection of oysters and cocktails. 

Owner Richard Ord Jnr comments: “It’s been a huge success since opening because it’s keeping the quality where it is but extending the experience with the customers we’ve already got. We find they sit on the terrace for an hour before their restaurant booking, go through for their meal and then go back to the terrace. So rather than staying for an hour and a half, customers are now staying for three hours. We are getting new customers as well, dog walkers, for example, so it’s opening us up to new markets that wouldn’t be able to come into the restaurant.”


You don’t need an abundance of outside space to facilitate seating, a simple bench seat or two to three chairs will allow customers to eat their fish and chips on the premises, which in itself can help create additional custom. 

BD Signs’ Barry Dickman adds: “Even if it’s just a couple of chairs with a couple of barriers, if a shop looks busy people will go in. People sitting there eating fish and chips is a great advertisement for a shop as people walking or driving by will see them, have the confidence it’s a good shop and stop by. All of sudden, the queue has got longer.”

Once you’ve decked out your pavement space, creating a short video of customers making the most of it and posting it on social media will help promote the addition of alfresco eating. 

As well as investing in furniture, a great driver of sales are digital TV screens in the window, which are useful tools to upsell, detail your food listings and opening hours, and showcase your specials and promotions. These can also be extended to digital pavement boards too, giving shops the ability to get multiple messages out to customers all at street level. 

If you’ve won awards recently, don’t forget to make space to advertise these. Whether it’s your hygiene rating, a Fry Top 50 award or a National Fish & Chip Award. There are so many places to eat now and with the market saturated with poor quality, advertising these can really help your business stand out.

And finally, always go back out and see if customers would like something else, even if you are not a restaurant. 

“Whilst it’s quiet inside, pop your head outside and ask: “Are you ok? If you’d like anything else – another drink – just pop back in,”, says Barry Dickman. “You don’t have to do table service to offer that, but it’s a really nice touch and might drive an additional sale.”

And, it goes without saying, when offering seating outside make sure you clean up so it’s ready for the next customers.


One Gobo offers an alternative to traditional banner and sign advertising with its range of high quality image projectors. 

The projectors work with a dedicated thermal glass lens on which a pattern is applied, enabling full colour logos and images to appear on the side of a business or even directly onto the pavement in front of passing customers. 

Durable and weather resistant, the kit can be used inside or out and will project a clear and vibrant image at distances up to 100 meters. Set-up is said to be quick and easy, operators simply connect the projector to a computer or mobile device and it’s ready to go. As well as being fun and versatile, projection advertising is said to consume less energy than traditional light-up signage. 
One Gobo

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