Making the Most of Outdoor Dining Spaces

February 8, 2021
Contributing Expert: Susie Krings | Senior Design Manager

In the COVID-19 era, outdoor spaces provide an escape. 

According to the CDC, "you are less likely to get or spread COVID-19 during outdoor activities. Look for seating options that are outside and have proper ventilation of outdoor air."

Whether it's outdoor dining areas or outside lounge space, outdoor environments are transforming from trend to the new norm as the pandemic pushes on.

Even in colder climates, we see creative setups using tents, igloos, and domes with fire pits and heaters to enjoy the outdoors during the winter months.

Outdoor Footprints are Growing  

McKinsey Pulse Survey found that over 80% of consumers are anxious about dining inside restaurants during the pandemic. As a result, many businesses are increasing their outdoor patio footprint for increased safety and peace of mind for patrons.  

Certainly, drive-thru and takeaway options are also popular, but for those looking for a social setting away from home, exterior spaces are safer alternatives to eating inside restaurants.  

Existing restaurants are taking full advantage of their outdoor space, while new locations expand their patio footprint from the beginning. Outdoor dining spaces are no longer an afterthought but an essential part of keeping the restaurant's doors open.  


Outdoor Dining Struggles 

Existing restaurants might find it challenging to make additional space for outdoor dining, especially those locked into a location with nowhere to expand. Metropolitan cities permit restaurants to take over sidewalk space without being penalized or breaking city violations. 

With many cities putting bans or limits on indoor dining, some businesses opt to use their interior furniture outdoors. Placing the furniture outside during operating hours and bringing it back inside in the evening is inconvenient for the business's operation. It requires more manpower and open and closing time. It also puts the interior furniture at risk to weather it's not created to withstand (wind, rain, sun exposure) and poses the threat of theft as the furniture is not secured outdoors. 

It's All About the Design  

Outdoor restaurant dining furniture differs from interior pieces as its specifically designed for exterior use, utilizing water-resistant, stain-resistant materials that can withstand the elements for long periods.  

Exterior rated materials include compact laminate, exterior compact laminate (low maintenance), and Corian (solid surface). These materials are all resistant to water and are easy to clean, making them great surfaces for tabletops and seating. Commercial grade patio furniture frames are typically constructed with aluminum, providing a sturdy weather-resistant base. On the other hand, interior furniture is generally built with wood or metal, both of which are not well-suited for commercial outdoor use.  

Bolt down or clip down construction also keeps outdoor patio furniture from shifting in the wind and protects from theft. Concrete screws fit in an attachment on the bottom of the furniture to secure it in place. This feature is another outdoor specific design element that indoor furniture pieces are not equipped with.   

Functionality isn't the only focus, though. Outdoor environments are becoming just as stylized as indoor ones, featuring natural elements and greenery, contemporary design elements, multiple seating areas for flexibility, and innovative partitions to create zoning and added visual interest. 


EIS Outdoor Line  

EIS has developed a commercial grade outdoor furniture line to provide additional solutions for our trusted partners in response to the pandemic. Where simplistic design meets warmth and comfort, our outdoor line makes the most of your patio space.

The variety of products in this outdoor line offers flexibility and functionality to create a patio space that sets the tone for a positive customer dining experience. The products are constructed with high-quality commercial-grade materials like solid surface and laminate and are backed by our product warranty. The furniture is lightweight, waterproof, and stackable for easy storage and mobility. 

This outdoor line is more than just tables and chairs. Our designers make sure all elements work together to create a cohesive outdoor environment from furniture to accessories, like planters, umbrellas, and divider screens. EIS can also provide guidance on floor plan layouts to create more functional and inviting outdoor dining spaces that still offer the feeling of safety for customers.   

We use our 40 years of interior space expertise to create functional and well-designed outdoor environments space. Reach out to get more information and start your outdoor furniture quote.