Today, many people are looking to enjoy al fresco dining. This may be on a local restaurant’s patio or deck, at an event catered by outside food trucks, or with friends and family in their yard. But what is al fresco dining?
Whether you’re at a restaurant with patio seating or cooking up a meal at home, al fresco dining is one of the best ways to enjoy good food and good company in the summertime. If you’re interested in what al fresco dining is and what it has to offer, read on!
What is Alfresco Dining?
Alfresco dining, or alfresco meals, are generally defined as outdoor meals. It’s not just about eating under the sun, though; it’s also about enjoying fresh air and beautiful surroundings while you eat. So even if you’re in an indoor restaurant with patio seating, you’ll usually find that al fresco means eating on the outdoor patio rather than inside the restaurant itself.
The term “alfresco” comes from Italian origins. It comes from “al fresco,” which translates to “in the cool.” Today, the word al fresco describes the act of dining outdoors, usually at an event catered by food trucks or on a deck or restaurant with patio seating. It can even refer to the meal you eat with friends and family in your yard.
The history of alfresco dining goes back to medieval times when hunters would eat pastries and cooked meat before hunting. The concept of dining al fresco became popular again in the 18th century, but it didn’t become widespread until the 19th century.
By this point, wealthy European families could afford luxurious dinnerware and other items for their outside dining experiences.
The popularity of alfresco meals has grown significantly over time. More Americans are spending money on equipment that makes it easier to have outdoor meals. In addition, many people use their yards or patios as an extension of their homes; by eating al fresco, they’re able to enjoy the views and spend more time outside with friends and family.
Today, restaurants are also catching on to the alfresco dining trend. In addition, many spots have outdoor seating where you can enjoy a meal while surrounded by nature and beautiful views.
The Pros of Alfresco Dining
There are many reasons people love to eat al fresco. So next time you’re craving outdoor eating, make sure you check out some of these benefits before you head out the door.
Enjoy Fresh Air
When you sit down to enjoy your meal outdoors, there’s one benefit that trumps all the others: you get to breathe fresh air! There’s nothing quite like taking in a deep breath or two while you eat your favorite foods.
You’ll feel rejuvenated and motivated to take on the day ahead. Plus, by spending time outside after your meal, you may even benefit from the bonus of sunlight and vitamin D.
One of the best things about al fresco dining is the additional seating. It’s a great way to accommodate a crowd or an unexpected rush during a busy lunchtime hour. If you need extra space for guests, consider a restaurant with outdoor seating.
You can take advantage of alfresco meals at home by using your patio or deck as additional space. Even if you feel like sitting down to dinner inside, you can always eat at your outdoor table when the weather is nice. Just because you’re indoors doesn’t mean al fresco dining should be off limits!
Nothing brings people together quite like a meal outdoors. Whether it’s a busy lunch hour or a beautiful weekend evening, alfresco dining is an opportunity to socialize and bond with others.
Great for Kids
Kids often enjoy eating outside because there’s more room to spread their things. Other children are simply fascinated by bugs, flowers, and nature in general. Because you’re eating outdoors, your child is more likely to stay entertained throughout the entire meal.
The fresh air can also be soothing to young kids teething or dealing with other symptoms of overstimulation.
The Cons of Outdoor Eating
As with any sort of dining, there are some drawbacks to consider. Next time you’re planning a meal al fresco, make sure to think about the following disadvantages:
Many restaurants and homes only have access to outdoor space during certain parts of the year. For example, some restaurant patios and decks aren’t open until springtime, and others won’t open up until later in the fall. This means that if you want to enjoy al fresco dining, you’ll have to time your meals correctly.
If you’ve ever been out on a patio or deck during a windy or rainy day, you know how miserable it can be. Because outside dining revolves around food and comfort, you need to ensure the weather is conducive to your meal. A sudden temperature or humidity change can spell disaster for a great outdoor experience.
Bugs and Critters
Bugs and other tiny critters may end up on your plate when you eat outside. Eating al fresco also means you’ll have to deal with bees and other animals attracted to your food. If this is a concern, you may want to hold off on alfresco dining until the weather starts cooling down in autumn or wintertime.
Noisy Background Noise
Outdoor living spaces come with their own set of noises: exhaust fans, air conditioners, hot grill tops, etc. Of course, the noise level will vary according to the time of day and where you’re seated, but it’s important to remember that outdoor eating doesn’t shield you from environmental sounds.
How to Make the Most of Restaurants With Patio Seating
In most cities with a temperate climate, plenty of restaurants offer outside dining options. Sometimes owners or managers will mention this as a selling point, but it can be challenging to find restaurants that accommodate fresco diners.
If you have a restaurant and plan to add outdoor seating, consider the following tips:
Create an Eye-Catching Sign
As a restaurant owner, you can attract more business by creating an eye-catching sign that advertises your patio or deck. Hang the sign near your front entrance to help customers find their way outside during nice weather.
Offer a Menu Supplement
If you’re operating on any type of tight budget, consider adding al fresco dining as an option instead of building out separate outdoor kitchens. If you equip your restaurant with ventilation fans and heat lamps, customers can order from your regular menu or opt for the alfresco alternative.
Retain Standard Hours
If you have a business that operates on a set schedule, consider making al fresco dining options part of your regular menu. During nice weather, the outdoor area should be open simultaneously as your restaurant.
Include Alcohol Options
Whether it’s wine or cocktails, alcohol typically helps people relax and enjoy themselves outside. So add a few alcoholic beverage options to the menu if you’re offering al fresco dining. This may be especially important from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM or during lunchtime on Fridays and Saturdays.
The hours will vary by location, but you can always encourage customers to enjoy a drink while eating outside.
Offer Seating in the Shade
If you’re in an area that experiences long periods of high temperatures, consider offering seating in the shade. A few umbrellas or canopies should do the trick, especially if coupled with a fan or two.
Additionally, you may want to place heat lamps near tables and planters full of live flowers. The more foliage you have, the more comfortable it should be for al fresco diners.
Create a Fun Environment
In addition to your standard patio dining options, you may want to offer other amenities that help create a fun environment.
One popular option is charging stations with outlets or USB ports and tables and chairs made from recycled materials. You could also consider adding a water feature, fire pit, or other types of activity.
Add Insect Repellant
Whether in the city or country, keeping your outdoor dining area free of insects is essential. Repellant sprays and candles could be another option for keeping bugs at bay.
Include a Privacy Wall
It’s possible to enclose an outdoor area with a simple privacy wall made from wood, bamboo, or other natural materials. Even if you don’t have room for a separate dining space, adding this type of barrier could do the trick. Additionally, it provides another selling point for al fresco dinners.
The Final Say
Alfresco, meaning “in the open air,” is a fantastic way to increase your profits and have a wonderful time for yourself. Whether it’s through adding new menu items or implementing a unique theme, there are so many ways to make al fresco dining work for you.
With all of this said, it’s essential to make sure your outdoor eating area is an inviting space for all types of customers. There are several ways to do this, including adding screens or creating a separate section for “noisy patrons.”
Always consider the needs and preferences of each customer when setting up your alfresco options. This may take some time, but it will be worth the wait.
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