Low-Budget Outdoor Restaurant Design Tips

It’s not unusual for new restaurant owners to be lacking in extra funds. After all, it takes a lot of time and money to open a restaurant. There are the costs of building or renting a brick-and-mortar structure, outfitting the kitchen, dining, and outdoor dining areas, and hiring and training the staff.

Then there are all the food costs associated with an eatery. Whether you’ve opened a coffee shop, a formal dining room, or an upscale Italian restaurant, it all costs money. And money is difficult to come by in those first few years of operation. That’s why you need economical choices for decor ideas and seating options.

While it is important to seat guests comfortably in your indoor or outdoor dining space, your first priority should be on the quality of foods and beverages you serve. That’s why it’s helpful to find economical choices with design choices like outdoor seating.

The increase in outdoor seating can be seen across the United States. According to Restaurant Dive, searches for businesses offering outdoor dining increased 292% in year two of the pandemic. Consumers are still wary of indoor dining and have turned to the benefits of enjoying an outdoor seating area.

With this new trend in mind, restaurants have been quickly looking to expand or create their outdoor seating areas. These additions can be costly with new furniture and design considerations. California Dining & Barstools shares our low budget design tips for creating an outdoor eating space that both consumers and your budget will appreciate.

Different Types of Outdoor Seating Areas

Offering an outdoor dining option is a great way to draw in foot traffic, especially if your restaurant is nicely situated along busy city streets. It’s a nice option for your guests during those transitional months of spring and fall, when nearby trees are either bursting into bloom or turning lovely hues of red and yellow. There are several low-cost options for creating an outdoor dining area that increases revenue and guest satisfaction without breaking your budget.

  • Front Porch Dining
  • Rooftop Dining
  • Outdoor Patio
  • Sidewalk Dining
  • Beer Garden

1. Front Porch Dining


Cozy, informal, and usually semi-private, a front porch dining area might easily accommodate two or three small parties at the same time. Think small-scale furniture made of metal, resin, stainless steel, or treated wood. This area might best fit bistro sets or cafe tables. And if your front porch isn’t spacious enough for dining, you could always create a cozy conversation area for guests to use while they wait for a table to open up.

2. Rooftop Dining


Rooftop dining is especially nice if your establishment is located in a historic or scenic part of town. Diners may be privy to the bright lights of a city skyline at night or the boats along the river throughout the day. A rooftop is a separate space that’s usually roomy enough to accommodate several tables and/or a rooftop bar. And it could easily be the only place in town where diners can go to experience the thrill of a romantic, rooftop adventure.

3. Outdoor Patio


Outdoor patio ideas include adding lots of big, beautiful plants, attractive outdoor lighting, and possibly the addition of outdoor heaters for those uncharacteristically cool days. If your patio is a small space that provides limited room for patio furniture, not to worry. You can increase the number of guests you’re comfortably able to accommodate by bringing in barstools, armless, or other forms of small, compact outdoor furniture.

4. Sidewalk Dining


Sidewalk dining is always a popular choice, so long as your dining area is outside of regular foot traffic. You may want to opt for shaded tables, such as those that feature umbrellas, to outfit your sidewalk dining area and protect your guests from inclement weather conditions. A second possibility is adding some type of small, shaded pergola for guests to dine beneath.

5. Beer Garden


By definition, a beer garden is an outdoor space where food and beer are typically served. But to create a true beer garden, you’ll need additional elements, including a grass or dirt floor and lots of communal seating. Communal tables can be a very cost-effective solution to outdoor seating. It promotes more casual dining but provides an abundance of seating areas to enjoy with big groups. Beer gardens allow restaurants or breweries to stock with picnic tables or bar seating, where guests can sit close together, drink beer, dine, and relax. If your new restaurant has access to a large back lot, putting in a beer garden could make it the most popular spot in town.

You Can Overcome Challenges of Outdoor Seating on a Budget

The way you arrange your outdoor space, and the size and scale of outdoor furniture you choose go a long way toward building a beautiful space while keeping to a budget. Restaurant design does not have to be complex. As long as you have the staples in place, including:

  • Easy access
  • A clear path through and around your seating areas
  • Lots of ambient lighting
  • Shade and protection from inclement weather
  • Outdoor furniture that’s sturdy and comfortable
  • A feeling of privacy from street traffic

Guests will have no trouble settling in and trying your delightful dishes. And if your kitchen and serving staff make them feel welcome and valued, odds are good they’ll be back with all their friends in tow.

Factors to Consider in Outdoor Restaurant Seating

As a new restaurant owner, budget may seem like the most important thing to consider when it comes to designing your outdoor area. However, you must keep the guest experience always at the forefront of your mind. Customer must-haves include fresh, tasty food choices, excellent customer service, safety, and comfort. Everything else is simply icing on the cake. So, as long as your outdoor patio ideas include these basic features, you’re already ahead of the game. This means your outdoor dining space should have enough room for guests and servers to maneuver around tables easily. It should be well-lit and attractive. It should be free from slip, trip, and fall hazards. It should be somewhat shielded from passers-by, and it should be a comfortable, relaxed place to unwind and enjoy a quick lunch, dinner, or drinks.

5 Tips for Low-Budget Outdoor Seating Design


So, once you have a clear idea of what type of restaurant you plan to operate and you’ve secured the location and outfitted the kitchen, it’s time to begin furnishing your dining areas. For outdoor dining spaces, use these five tried-and-tested tips that other successful restaurateurs have used before you:

  1. Use a Minimalist Restaurant Style
  2. Consider Your Lighting Choices
  3. Maintain Attractive Curb Appeal
  4. Adopt a Simple Seating Layout
  5. Bring in Classy Accessories
  6. Consider Your Furniture Options Carefully

Mostly, this means you don’t want to jampack every square foot of space with furniture. It means you should keep your seating area simple. And it means adding an attractive focal point to the space. A stage that accommodates live bands is ideal.

Lighting should be adequate, but affordable. For many of today’s open restaurants, this means the addition of string lights or solar lights. And use accessories such as plants, table covers, statuary, or even water features, to boost the curb appeal of your outdoor area. 

And when it comes to your choice of outdoor dining table, dining chair, or barstool, opt for ones that fit your space and that are durable enough to hold up to the

How California Dining & Barstools Can Help You Design Your Restaurant on a Budget

If you’re a restaurant owner in the Bay Area, California Dining & Barstools are here to help elevate your outdoor space. At California Dining & Barstools, it’s our personalized touch that restaurateurs value the most. Often, you’ll find one of the owners on site at our Sunnyvale or Pleasant Hill locations, providing top-notch customer service and advice that stems from more than half a century of experience. And second only to our dedication is our beautiful selection of dining furniture and barstools, after which our company is named. If you visit our showrooms, you can see, touch, and experience our furniture in person. You can also pair our individual pieces up any way you like, so they fit comfortably into any space, big or small.

At California Dining & Barstools, we understand how challenging it is to become a successful new restaurant owner. That’s why we offer quality dining sets, dinettes, pub tables, and chairs at prices you can afford, and that’s why we encourage you to pair them up in the configurations that work best for your space. We invite you to stop by one of our showrooms in Pleasant Hill or Sunnyvale today for all your indoor and outdoor dining needs. We offer one of the most comprehensive selections of dining furniture and bar stools in the Bay Area. Contact us for more information on designing your Bay Area restaurant.