Make the most of outdoor dining this summer

With Victoria and New South Wales both pushing alfresco dining this summer in an attempt to help hospitality, here are 5 tips to making the most of this opportunity.


If you’re not lucky enough to have an outdoor area ready to go, think about an area that would be easy to convert into an outdoor dining area. Do you have access to a laneway or park close by? Can you get permission from your council to use that space?

Another option could be converting an outdoor smoking area, if you have it. Sure, your patrons wouldn’t be able to smoke there anymore, but it would be an easy way to give your patrons a place to eat. If you choose to relocate your smoking area to create more dining space you’ll need to comply with the legislative requirements in your state.

#2 plan your traffic flow

Configuring your outdoor space so there are clear entry and exit points is a must when it comes to keeping control of patron numbers. Have a plan for how you’ll control your numbers and make sure you block paths you don’t want people to walk through.

Not only is this important for keeping your business COVID-compliant, but having the entrance and exist clearly marked makes it easier for people to follow.

#3 weatherproof your AREA

This is no brainer, especially in Melbourne where you might get four seasons in one day. But no matter where your hospo business is located, we recommend you have sufficient shade for your patrons.

Weather-proof umbrellas on tables are a good option, because they can easily be moved around and put up or down depending on the weather.

Weather-proof awnings or roofs are permitted too, which can be temporary or fixed, provided at least 2 sides are open for ventilation.

Venues in Victoria need to ensure umbrellas and sun shades cover less than half of the outdoor area, so as to not significantly impede upward airflow in the area.

#4 Choose furniture wisely

If you’re setting up your outdoor area from scratch, chances are you don’t have any outdoor furniture. It’s recommended to choose outdoor furniture that’s:

  • Waterproof
  • Easy to move and stack
  • Durable, as your furniture will be exposed to the elements

Outdoor furniture needs to be both functional and comfortable. You might be stacking the outdoor furniture inside when the restaurant is closed. For this reason, it should be light and easy for your staff to move. It’s also worth choosing chairs that stack easily, if space inside is limited. Adding furniture pads to the bottom of your outdoor furniture legs will also protect your floors when you’re moving them inside and outside.


An outdoor menu board is a great way to show off your menu. Having an outdoor menu at your entrance not only lures foot traffic, but is more COVID-safe than paper or laminated menus.

And if you don’t have online ordering, an outdoor menu board will help make ordering outside easier.

Also it’s a good idea to have adequate lighting for the menu board, so your patrons can read it in the evening too.



Even outdoors, you still need to

  • Limit your patron numbers
  • Take down patron contact details for tracing purposes
  • Remove communal cutlery and self-service stations
  • Ensure patrons stay seated
  • Make sure your COVID-safe plan is in place for outdoor trading
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