While the weather is cold and dreary it may not seem the right time for a bar owner, publican or landlord to think about the beer garden or outside. However, during the warmer months, people are increasingly wanting to spend more time outside, especially since the smoking ban, so the winter is a good time to start preparing if you want to take advantage of this market.
Providing a comfortable place for people to socialise, drink and eat, outdoors, does require some thought and it essential you have the right bar equipment and accessories to ensure you can provide the services your customers need.
Commonly, outdoor areas contain smoking shelters. These are quite an investment but you do need to have an area where people who are inside can nip out to have a smoke. Wall mounted ashtrays provide a place to stand and congregate and prevent mess.
If you are providing seating then it is important to remember the tables will need ashtrays and drink mats. When looking for furniture it is a good idea to think of how it will be kept clean as well as the practicalities.
Some bars and pubs are installing outdoor TVs to provide entertainment outside and while these are a heady investment there is nothing stopping you from placing speakers outside.
Eating al'fresco is increasingly demanded by modern drinkers and pub goers. If you are serving food indoors then there should be little to stop you providing food outside. Along with catering equipment and all the kitchen essentials, cutlery, plates and napkins will need to be stocked up on.
Outdoor areas should always be treated in a similar way to inside. It's a common mistake for glasses to be neglected outdoors which can soon make outside untidy. You should ensure it is well maintained and is constantly cleaned – just like the inside of the pub.
Finally, you may have to consider your neighbours and licence stipulations if you are providing an outdoor area for your customers. You may find that you are limited to the time of day or the activities you allow in the pub or beer garden.