It’s been almost two years since COVID19 forced us to move away from our normal way of living, and imposed changes that people across many different industries probably never saw themselves having to make. While outdoor or alfresco dining is not a new concept, the value that this style of social dining has brought to the hospitality industry and given businesses the ability to continue trading (albeit at varied capacities at times) through the course of this pandemic and moving forward is immeasurable.
As we now begin to move towards the next stage of our “new normal”, with high vaccination rates meaning restrictions are easing quickly, and people are allowed to begin taking back some of life’s simple pleasures, where does this leave outdoor dining and how necessary is it at your venue?
It became clear very early on in the pandemic that simply being outdoors significantly reduced the risk and spread of COVID19. This was great news for business that already had options in place for outdoor dining, and the ability to continue trading. For those who needed to pivot or expand to outdoor dining the introduction of parklets to increase space availability became a popular addition to their venue and trading capacity. We can see how the hospitality industry will be changed for years to come, and for many businesses, this was an opportunity to find new ways to serve their customers and run their business. Being able to access space to serve customers in a safe setting which also creates a positive and lively atmosphere brought an opportunity for change that may not have been considered previously.
The addition of outdoor space to your venue is at no time going to be a wasted effort, especially with government and council grants continuing to offer support in varied degrees.
In the heart of the Melbourne CBD there is a huge reactivation and recovery plan immerging. Concentrating on immediate changes that can be made with long-term regeneration in mind. With a move to close laneways and parking bays to provide more outdoor trading, while also waiving permit fees, outdoor dining is one of the actions that will bring back life to the Melbourne CBD.
Local Councils have also been allocated funding to support businesses in their efforts to get back to a long-term sustainable level of trade, with the aim to extend any existing outdoor eating and entertaining facilities, and also support businesses with new facilities to be able to operate outdoors.
When outdoor dining parklets were first introduced in 2020, they were originally pitched as a temporary solution that would be removed after a few months. As time has gone on these “temporary” measures have proven to be beyond valuable to the businesses and community, that when local councils have re-imaged their outdoor dining initiatives, they have made the change to move these parklets to a more lasting feature and in many instances, preferring a permanent installation, or at the very least a parklet that can be removed and reinstalled, rather than disposed of as many previous parklet installations ended up.
There really is no “silver bullet” when it comes to living with COVID19, the changes that it can force on us and how we function day to day, but one thing is for sure, open air dining provides a safer environment for everyone, and allows you to expand on your trading capacity.
If you need advice on how you could expand your outdoor dining potential, we can provide custom solutions for you and help you reach a higher capacity of trading.